P Is for Product Placement

By Mash Bonigala

If you have watched any American television shows lately, you have probably been exposed to product placement. We recently reported that the UK is going to join the United States in allowing this less obvious but often more effective form of advertising. This week, Ofcom released the official rules for placing products on television shows as marketing along with a simple graphic to be shown immediately preceding shows that do so.

An icon such as this must be simple and recognizable, so that the public can immediately recognize that the products in the following programme are functioning as advertisement. Alternative forms of advertisement are important in the modern world, where DVR and internet television viewing have given viewers the chance to skip traditional commercials.

UK logo design is known for simplicity, and this graphic certainly has that quality. While it lacks the smooth, web 2.0 feeling that defines modern logo design, it is basic enough to be timeless, which means that UK television viewers for decades will be able to recognize the image and understand what it means. The way the two P’s are layered is directly relevant to both the name and the concept that it represents. You could even say that the internal P is ‘placed’ inside the larger one.

Product placement is somewhat controversial in the UK. Part of this is due to a reluctance to have the highly commercial-feeling programming seen in the United States and other parts of the world. When Ofcom decided to allow this alternate marketing method, it did so with a set of rules. First, product logo placement is not allowed in certain types of programming, such as children’s programming or news.  The BBC also will not be using product placement in programmes made for UK audiences. Second, the layered P icon will be shown for three seconds before the show is aired to notify viewers of the product placement.

Further, only certain types of products can be legally placed on UK television. Harmful substances such as cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, and unhealthy foods will not be allowed either. Guns and other products that are not allowed to be advertised on UK television will be banned in product placement as well.

Despite the restrictions, product placement will likely prove as lucrative in the UK as it has in the United States. It gives manufacturers a chance to build their brand by having their UK logo design used conspicuously in popular programming. Not only does this add profit-making opportunities for the programmes, it offers a chance for television and products to “co-brand.”

This also poses challenges for smaller, lesser-known products and companies in the UK. How can your UK logo design get the exposure that your business needs to succeed in a market where even television programming is filled with competing logos? The need to have a professional UK logo design and to make smart branding choices will become even more acute in the very near future. If you aren’t sure whether your brand and logo design are ready for the competition, talk to a logo designer today.