Why Is Product Placement Okay On TV Without Disclosure?

from the questions... dept

We're still wondering if the FTC is really going to go after blogs that don't disclose financial relationships concerning products they're pitching. So far, the only action the FTC has taken (publicly) has been to investigate retailer Ann Taylor for giving bloggers gift cards -- an action for which it was given a pass. In that case, it was worth noting that the focus was on the company, not the bloggers involved. However, there are still many questions about how arbitrarily the rules will be applied. Danny Sullivan is pointing out that with so much undisclosed product placement on TV, shouldn't that be a bigger concern than if a blogger mentions he or she got a free gift card before writing about a product? While I, like many people, tend to think disclosure is important for your own reputation, the ambiguity and subjectiveness of the FTC's rules is worrying. While I don't know for sure, my guess is that the FTC would say that most people already understand how TV product placement works, so they're not too bothered by it. That, at least, was the explanation an FTC person gave when questions were raised about why the FTC doesn't go after celebrities talking up products and services they were given for free... But it does seem kind of ridiculous that a celebrity is given more leeway not to disclose just because they're famous.
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Filed Under: disclosure, ftc, product placement

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  1. icon
    Bloomman (profile), 2 Jun 2010 @ 9:52pm

    I agree that we need to stand up against intrusive disclosure laws. I don't think making the Hollywood argument will change minds as the counter will always be "watch the credits".

    The focus should remain on the logic of we live in a world where "buyer beware" is accepted and encouraged. This is not a negative as a quality product will *generally* win out over savvy marketing. As we move towards a more connected world it becomes harder and harder to pass a crummy product off onto the marketplace. Five years ago if you told me half my purchases would be based on the ratings of perfect strangers, I would have said you were crazy! Yet I find I hit the 4 star filter on Amazon 90% of the time.

    If my son runs a lawn mowing business and has mowed my lawn with precision for 10 years, am I wrong to give him a 5 star on Google? Do I need to write "*WARNING* I'm his Father so you should take that into consideration" or face being fined? What about saying I'm a Fan on Facebook? Is there even a place to disclose that within the Facebook system?

    Forget the internet. Let's say I'm putting one of those cardboard signs on the lawn that says "Mowed by Smith's Mowing". Should I be required to put up a second sign disclosing my relationship with the owner?

    And how far do these disclosure rules reach? Sure family is an easy target but what about friends? My wifes co-workers? What about the girl I buy coffee from? My son mows her parents lawn. Now when they put up a nice comment on the mowing companies Google profile, was it because they do good work or because I tipped their daughter a buck? Money changed hands! Disclose it or else....

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