Product Placement


Issue
Current broadcast product placement disclosure rules allow product placement in television programs provided the placement is disclosed, usually during end-of-show credits. Product placement has been a part of media production for decades but is receiving increased attention as a reaction both to the perceived increase in the practice and to new technologies, including digital video recorders and on-demand cable television.

AAF Position
Product placement is a legitimate source of advertising revenue and is not deceptive. It benefits both content producers and consumers and adds verisimilitude to fictional programming. We oppose proposals that would require simultaneous "pop up" notices of every instance of product placement, believing this would make television unwatchable. We instead believe the current practice of disclosures at the end of a program works well.

Opposition
Consumer interest groups, including Commercial Alert and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, have sought more extensive disclosure of all paid product ads on-screen or an outright ban of the practice. Some writers of film and television have publicly objected to the perceived increase in paid product placement in films and television, saying it undermines their craft.

Status
In September 2003, Commercial Alert petitioned the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, calling for a large "pop up" notice to appear every time a product placement is shown on television. The FTC responded to the complaint in February 2005, saying they do not find product placement to be deceptive and declined to pursue formal action.

In November 2005, the Writers Guild of America, West, and the Writers Guild of America, East, called for clearer disclosure of when products are incorporated into a storyline. The guilds have said they would prefer to resolve these issues independently of federal regulators but want to be better compensated for what they perceive to be advertising work. The Screen Actors Guild has publicly supported the writers' unions, saying that their members should be compensated for product placements.

Updates


June 28, 2008: The Federal Communications Commission has indicated it will conduct a Notice of Proposed Inquiry on simultaneous disclosure of embedded advertising and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on all other facets of product placement. The FCC is seeking comments on whether it should require broadcasters to include an on-screen "crawl" whenever there is an instance of product placement on television.

In September 2008, the AAF and national media providers submitted comments in response to the Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. These comments are available here.

Last updated: October 2008

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