And the point to product placement is?

Simon Cowell, American Idol judgeWhether there will be a flourish of product placement when Ofcom opens the regulation floodgates on Monday (28 February) is anyone’s guess, but from the agency buyers I’ve been talking to they are not going to bet their expense accounts on there behind a sudden flood.

The truth is, from the chats I’ve had this week with some pretty senior “gorillas with calculators” (TV buyers to the uninitiated) the response has varied from indifference, “its small beer, mate” to questioning, “why are you hacks so interested?” and back to indifference “can’t we talk about something sensible?”

Al ways nice to be shot down in flames, but I’m used to that, I’ve worked in sales, agencies and journalism and am, by the way, now editing Media Week.

From these conversations, estimates put product placement in its first year at anything between £2 to £4m a year for the commercial networks ITV, Channel 4, Sky and UKTV, and that’s in total.

So, small beer indeed, like a tasters drop when you wanted the full pint.

In a £3.2 billion market, that’s somewhat laughable.

Until today, when an awareness campaign launches across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, the public have not been aware that they may have to put up with the general irritation of a flashing “P” at the edge of their screen every time a paid-for placement for something as innocuous as a can of fizzy pop appears on their screen. Does the irritation outweigh the inevitable channel flicking, I would say no.

And what does it say about the commercial television networks? Were they desperate enough to ask for this?
The UK public are not idiots, they see brands around them every day, so why they have to see trade marks blacked out on screen, or a tub of what is easily recognisable as Marmite described as “yeast spread” or Tabasco as “hot pepper sauce” is beyond me.

I’m sorry to ruin the illusion, but for those of you who have lived in a dark cupboard for the last five years, that blurry glass which was in front of Simon Cowell on American Idol repeats on ITV2  is actually Coca-Cola.

Now I feel I have told you there is no Santa Claus, but even the modern version of Saint Nick, according to an urban fairytale, is an invention of the brown, bubbly, toothache in a can.

Watch out what you wish for TV, you might actually get it, and realise it wasn’t worth it in the first place.