A number of major advertisers, including Coca-Cola, Nokia and Cadbury,
have come under fire this week for getting their commercial messages on
to TV via outlawed product placement and using sponsorship credits that
break current regulations.
A new report from the Independent Television Commission has upheld
several complaints against ITV and Channel 4 for allowing the
advertisers ‘undue commercial prominence’.
The ITC upheld a complaint from a viewer about a Central Television
programme, Scratchy and Co, which the ITC felt ‘contained a number of
obvious commercial references’ to Cadbury and Planet Hollywood.
The ITC questioned the number of brand mentions in a short space of time
and whether the programme idea would still have worked without such a
high degree of branding.
Similarly, Channel 4 has been upbraided for giving undue prominence to
Coca-Cola in its schools education show, the Maths Programme, which
claimed its use of cans of Coca-Cola was justified on the grounds that
the series applied mathematics to real-life situations. However, the
channel conceded that additional Coke branding that appeared as a
backdrop to the set was clearly inappropriate.
Channel 4 was also reprimanded for the Nokia sponsorship credits on its
Moviewatch programme. The credits - ‘Nokia: Pioneers of widescreen
television’ - were deemed to be in breach of the ITC sponsorship code
because they included a promotional message. The credits were altered to
replace ‘pioneers’ with ‘makers’.