More than two dozen public-interest groups are calling the Federal Communications Commission to address what they call "advertainment": TV programming they say is chock full of product placement. Led by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC), the movement aims to prevent TV programs from becoming "Trojan horses, carrying messages that would otherwise be criticized by the public or even deemed illegal":

These organizations cite as cause for concern a Nielsen report indicating a 13 percent boost in product placement spots on network TV last year—over 25,000 placements in the top ten shows. If you watch American Idol on a regular basis, you saw over 4,000 product placements in 38 episodes this year, CCFC says.

In May 2007, the FCC received a similar complaint from two House Democrats regarding the increase in product placement in TV programs. According to the "payola" clause in the Communications Act, broadcasters are required to tell viewers if the program airs something "in exchange for money, services or other valuable consideration."

There's definitely been a visible increase in product placement in recent years, and the plugs seem to have become obnoxiously more blatant. Is it just me or do the big honkin' Cokes in front of the judges on American Idol look bigger and more distracting each year? (Turns out that there probably isn't any Coke in there to begin with, anyway.) Survivor is peppered with brands, from Doritos to Mountain Dew.

And it's not just reality shows. Dramas and sitcoms are actually writing specific products into the storyline instead of using them merely as props. Fans of The Office should be familiar with how much Chili's has been featured on the show—heck, one episode was pretty much set entirely in Chili's. (Sidenote: The only amusing and "good" plug I've seen was the, er, ode to Burger King in one episode of Arrested Development) [via Ars Technica]


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