Product Placement Problems

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by: John Winsor

I was surprised by Louise Story’s article in yesterday’s New York Times entitled, "So That’s Why They Drink Coke on TV" in which she mentioned that the FCC is considering investigating whether or not product integration dupes consumers.

“Networks may be turning to more subtle and sophisticated means of incorporating commercial messages into traditional programming,” said Kevin J. Martin, the commission’s chairman, at a September public hearing. “I believe it is important for consumers to know when someone is trying to sell them something.”

Where’s the news on this? Twenty years ago when I started a publishing company I started an event company, as well. The whole idea was to leverage the relationship between the advertisers and the readers. That included running ads, sponsoring the events and covering the events in the editorial pages.

Marketers want and should be looking for any way to deepen the relationship with their customers. That’s their job. Media companies are only there to help facilitate that relationship. Consumers are smart enough to know what is sponsored and what is not.

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