I've already blogged about product placement in movies and novels, as well as songs. According to the International Journal of Advertising ((International Journal of Advertising, 2008, 27 (4), pp. 495-509)), “Although brand appearances in popular culture may be motivated by creative considerations, such as the desire to lend verisimilitude to a drama or a novel, when such references result from commercial considerations (i.e. brand owners are charged for brand’s appearance) the practice is considered brand placement.”
As far as TV goes, brand placement has been a more rare occasion there. After all, TV has always had an opportunity of interrupting any program by a series of ads. However, ad spend has decreased over the years, with advertisers increasingly aware of the fact that TV viewers simply "switch off" during ad breaks, which essentially means money wasted on ad production and placement.
Product placement in TV shows and soaps is a more gentle, and yet at the same time more invasive form of brand promotions. It's gentle because it doesn't interrupt anything -- you can go on watching your soap. And yet, it's more invasive because it's much more difficult for a viewer to change channels simply because someone is flashing a can of Coke on the screen. So, you just go on watching, and getting your brain stuffed with program content, along with brand names that go along with it. In the UK, for example, TV channels have had to make a big effort to avoid featuring branded goods up till now.
"In dramas a canned drink is always held in such a way that the logo is obscured by the actor's hand; products appearing in shot during "reality" shows often have their labels obscured in post-production by patches of blur, " says Tim Hayward on Guardian's Word of Mouth blog.
At the end of February this year, Hayward writes, it will be possible to place branded goods on UK's TV and radio channels. Will this help TV to generate enough cash to improve the quality of programs? And if yes, will it be done in a way that will not annoy TV consumers too much?