Olswang, ITV, Unruly Media, I-vu


There are clearly mixed views within the industry about the value of product placement (24 June, pages 19, 21 and 24). But surely it is in everyone's interests for whatever rules are put in place to be consistent?

At present, product placement exists on television, albeit not on a paid-for basis, as well as more overtly in movies, computer games and online. However, different or no rules apply to each medium, making the transfer from one to another more difficult and, arguably, sending out an inconsistent message.

The provisions in the European Audio-Visual Services Directive on product placement apply to all audio-visual media services, not just linear broadcasting. But for a service to be included within the scope of the directive at all, it must be "television-like". It remains to be seen how this concept will be implemented in the UK and, in particular, whether online content such as Bebo's Kate Modern and Sofia's Diary will be caught. The transfer of Sofia's Diary to linear TV might suggest that they should.

But that is not to say it will damage the credibility of the UK television industry. Rather, it suggests that if online content containing product placement can be popular and credible enough to make this jump, then a controlled relaxation of the rules for television might not be such a bad thing.

Victoria Gaskell, Media, comms and technology associate, Olswang


ITV is not making product placement a "cause celebre", as suggested by Colin Grimshaw (Product placement on TV is not worth the candle, 24 June, page 21), nor is it suggesting that product placement is, in isolation, a commercial Holy Grail. Nevertheless, it is one of a number of ways we can innovate our offer to advertisers and help to sustain our high level of investment in original programming.

Colin really shouldn't worry about Jack Duckworth switching from Newton & Ridley's finest to "a poncey Australian lager". An effective regulatory regime would guard against US-style excesses and protect the interests of UK viewers.

We have absolutely no incentive to alienate viewers and would wholeheartedly support boundaries to ensure the editorial integrity within programming is protected.

Gary Knight, Brand partnership director, ITV


The question of whether it is more valuable for brands to be an integral, supporting player in an online drama, or to use transparently commercial ads that fail to engage (Product placement 2.0, 24 June, page 24), is redundant in the digital age.

Brands do not have to choose between surreptitious product placement and interruptive advertising. Companies that create interesting viral content and use video seeding specialists to reach their target audience can encourage consumer interaction while fully retaining brand identity.

In fact, I would argue that this creates a higher level of consumer engagement and loyalty than either traditional advertising or brand integration. A great example of this is the video for the BMW GINA Light Visionary Model, which features the chief of design for BMW talking the viewer through its development. The clip has had almost three million views and, more importantly, has been commented on 2,600 times, showing real audience participation.

Content is still king and neither bombarding consumers with brand messages nor sneaking products into online dramas will create an involved community. Targeted, interesting or just plain entertaining content will prevail.

Scott Button, Chief executive, Unruly Media


Your article Outdoor sure of growth return (24 June, page 8) discusses how smaller outdoor operators are warning that their Q2 ad spend could be down. However, the article fails to explore possible solutions to counter this decline.

The realisation that there is a "triple recession" highlights the importance of not being wholly reliant on your traditional UK base and the need to move into untapped markets as quickly as possible.

I-vu's recent funding of £40m ($80m) has enabled it to stake claims in many new, non-European markets such as the US, South America and Asia. While i-vu serves a niche market in the UK, it has the potential to be replicated on a large scale. For example, there are 35,000 hair salons in the UK and 200,000 hairdressers in the US.

As proof of this, i-vu has placed three times as many screens in the US as in the UK and is due to double last year's turnover in that country.

Mike Anstey, Chief executive, I-vu

YOU LIKE... Chronicles of Narnia

Nick Booth, art director at Time Out London, loves the outdoor campaign from JCDecaux, Posterscope and Carat for the film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. He says: "Featuring a 14-foot, 2D cut-out of King Miraz on backlit billboards gives a great effect. Boosting the creative in this way gives a very traditional format a great lift."

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