Jamie Oliver’s decision to take the Sainsbury’s shilling - well, a
million quid actually - to help set the supermarket’s barcode lasers
buzzing again is proving as indigestible as a plate of cold chips at BBC
The Corporation is getting very huffy at the news that one of its
hottest properties has sold his soul to the admen and is being none too
subtle about what it expects if Oliver is to stay in its employ.
No plagiarising of The Naked Chef format, no plugging of similar recipes
in the commercials and no scheduling the ads to appear on ITV while
Oliver is just a press of the remote button away on the other side.
Poor old Auntie. Yet again she seems out of date and out of touch,
unable to keep abreast of a changing world as it speeds past her and she
tries to keep herself pure while the rising tide of get-rich-quick
celebs turns into a flood.
Her problem is a tabloid press which creates celebrities faster than you
can say ’Anna Kournikova’. What’s more, they’re not celebrities content
with mere fame.
They are all only too aware of Andy Warhol’s observation on their
ephemeral status and want to cash in while it lasts. This may be with
the aid of smart lawyers who are finding courts increasingly sympathetic
to the argument that attempts to shackle their clients amount to
restraint of trade.
It all goes to show how far the cult of celebrity has travelled from
that innocent age when the nation tuned in en masse to watch Percy
Thrower, who was never seen in his BBC greenhouse without waistcoat, tie
Today he would have earned millions through advertising
Instead, the seeds he sowed are there for Charlie Dimmock to reap.
Yet I believe the BBC is right to take an uncompromising line in
protecting the integrity of its programmes - and that it is in the ad
industry’s best interests that it is successful.
If this is hard for the BBC, which carries no advertising (OK, it
shamelessly promotes its own commercial activities but we’ll let that
pass for the moment), it is even tougher for ITV.
There, the growth of sponsorship and the creeping incursions of product
placement threaten to blur the distinctions between advertising and
The National Consumer Council has spotted one symptom of a worrying
trend, voicing its concern about the featuring of heavily advertised
toys in children’s programmes.
At first glance, it may be hard to see why advertisers shouldn’t be
rather pleased at the increased opportunities for promoting themselves
outside the confines of the commercial break.
In reality, this is a self-defeating attitude. Protecting programmes
from becoming advertising vehicles is in everybody’s interest. Without
safeguards, broadcasters will see their offerings become debased along
with the popularity of their stars. What value will either be to