Whether it’s the close-ups of bland Buitoni packs on Top Chef or the sardonic parade of Apple products on 30 Rock, product placement feels like it’s at an all-time high. It’s mostly our fault too, since we skip ads with our DVRs and look away while annoying 15-second ads play before a web broadcast, product placement gets to us at the moment we are paying attention, during the actual program. Common practice in U.S. shows this was forbidden in the UK until this past Friday when Ofcom, the “Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries” announced it would be taking responsibility for the rules governing product placement in the UK and allowing it in original programming. Along with the announcement they have released a logo that is to be used for three seconds at the beginning and end of a show as well as after any commercial break.
I really love this. It’s such a simple and basic visual pun without being overtly “funny” or clever. Product. Placement. One “P” placed inside another “P”. For someone seeing it for the first time on TV it will probably not be evident what it is, but I am guessing that, at least in the beginning of its use, there will be a nice voiceover that says “This programme contains product placement” at the moment when the logo appears on screen. It’s like the CC icon for Closed Captioning, you don’t think about it anymore and it’s ingrained in our TV viewing routine. The execution is as basic as it gets and the “P”s are as nondescript as possible, it has a great 1950s-rise-of-corporate-identity look to it. It ain’t sexy but it’s effective.
Ofcom could even subsidize an awareness campaign of the logo by doing some product placement of their own, using the familiar logo-as-window device. The idea is free of charge, Ofcom, on me: