Will it flout broadcasting rules? Will viewers get fair warning?
Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-10-18
It’s a paradigm shift in product placement, more blatant and yet more subtle than merely having a hero drinking a particular brand of soft-drink on the screen – yet it’ll probably go unchecked by controls on TV advertising.
Microsoft are, putting it kindly, "having input" into the script of an upcoming "Family Guy" episode, with the dog touting all the bells and whistles as to why people should upgrade.
Will the TV broadcaster have to make announcements about it being a sponsored program like it does for other infommercials before the start of the program and when returning from typical ad breaks? Will the broadcaster have to obey rules for how many minutes of advertising they can air in a given time?
Even if the only part of the show has the advertising content is that included in the sneak-peak available at Ars Technica, that’s probably more as a proportion of the show than many ads on television that only flash up the product identification for a few seconds in an otherwise entertaining ad (this Australian ad being a brilliant and hilarious example), all the while the audience paying close attention to the content, more than the audience would to an obvious ad, and more attention than to the typical plug by the car the hero drives or the drinks imbibed by heroes/villians.
I doubt there’ll be a balance, such as the world’s cutest IT mascot coming up and going "loser", or satirising Poe’s "The Raven"? Probably not. (Take your pick – there are a few excellent parodies, including this, and this, and this, with most involving the user bedevilled by "Abort Retry Ignore" and a penguin quothing "Crash no more" or "Pay no more")
Microsoft and Fox, money and broadcasting clout near-unlimited, will be able to twist ACMA at will, and by the time anybody complains, the damage will have been done. Perhaps ABC "Media Watch" might make a pre-emptive announcement and get pressure to at least warn viewers about the near-subliminal paid advertising just before they are exposed to it?