The government is currently consulting on whether to allow the introduction of product placement in drama and entertainment programming. In advance of its findings, PACT and ITV are battling to keep the option of product placement on the table.
Culture secretary Andy Burnham, who has argued that British viewers did 'not want to see the blurring of content and advertising', said at last week's IAB Engage conference: 'I don't have a closed mind on it, but the price that would be paid would be very high in my view.'
ITV has mounted a high-profile publicity campaign in recent months claiming that product placement is a 'legitimate new revenue stream' as TV ad revenues plummet. However, the broadcaster now insists that placement would be 'creatively rather than commercially led'.
The new code suggests that product placement should be highlighted in programmes by a visual indicator, such as an industry-wide logo. There would also be 'no undue prominence' of brands, which would be brought into a programme only after the script has been finalised.
ITV is already working more closely with advertisers to generate new ad streams, and plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street next year with brands using stars of the soap, logos and incentives to promote their products.