FCC To Reevaluate "Embedded Advertising" On Television

The FCC has announced that they will be examining the practice of “embedded advertising” on television and will decide on what additional disclosure messages should be provided to protect the audience. This differs from simple product placement in that embedded advertising interweaves products into plot lines and dialogue, essentially, transforming a normal scene into an advertisement. The FCC contends that additional disclosure messages are necessary to protect viewers who may not be aware that advertisers are paying to have their products written into the plots of TV shows. Details, inside…

The article says,

Among examples cited by critics are episodes of the family-oriented show “7th Heaven,” which included plot lines revolving around Oreo cookies. Other examples include “The Office” in which characters work at a Staples office supply store; a “CSI” show in which characters promote features of a General Motors vehicle; and a “Smallville” episode in which the dialogue included the line “Acuvue to the rescue,” a reference to the contact lens maker.

7th Heaven provides a sparkling example of embedded advertising. Below, the characters are so busy choking down Oreos that they can barely spit out their dialogue.

In another scene, we hear the dialogue, “How about some cookies and milk? Oreos? It’s my favorite. Hey, mine too!” It seems that Nabisco is so vain that they even have to change the time-honored phrase “milk and cookies” to “cookies and milk.”

The AP says,

Writers, who have to incorporate products into scripts, and actors, who shill for products without getting paid for it, are especially unhappy.

The Writers Guild of America West, a union that represents Hollywood television and film screenwriters, wants “real time” disclosure at the time the product is mentioned, like a text “crawl” at the bottom of the screen.

“Since DVRs and other such devices allow viewers to skip or fast forward through opening and closing credits, requiring disclosure at some other moment in the programming will simply not offer adequate protection,” wrote Patric Verrone, president of the organization, in a letter to Martin.

Jeffrey Perlman with the American Advertising Federation said running a crawl is an “absolutely terrible idea” and that it would be “terribly disruptive” for television viewers.

We suppose some additional disclosure is a decent idea but we’re not exactly sure who the FCC is trying to protect. Does the FCC think that there are people out there (besides children) that believe that these TV characters are real people who are actually enjoying these products? Who exactly would benefit from additional disclosure? Naturally, Consumerists are much too savvy to become unwitting victims of embedded advertising. In fact, we’re so savvy that we don’t even feel like grabbing a gallon of cold milk and devouring a sleeve of creamy, crunchy, delicious Oreo cookies.

FCC may put stealthy advertising on audience radar [AP] (Thanks to Dan!)