Hollywood Unions Protest Product Placement

15 November 2005

Hollywood screen writers and actors are rebelling against the increasing use of product placement in TV shows and movies.

The unions representing the groups say this kind of 'hidden' advertising harms their artistic integrity. But there is also the small matter of money: at present writers and actors do not share in the revenues generated by product placement.

The Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild have put forward a code of conduct which they want adopted by the TV networks and movie studios. The writers' union claims the use of products in filmed entertainment jumped 44% last year, with revenue topping $1 billion (€851m; £572m).

They are demanding disclosure at the beginning of each movie and TV program of the advertising that has been woven into the script. They also want the studios to put limits on the use of such advertising in children's programming.

Says Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg: "Just as there is an established right to truth-in-advertising, there should be a similar right to truth-in-programming where advertising is concerned."

And the unions are threatening to go to media watchdog, the Federal Communications Commission, if their demands are ignored.

Their employers, however, argue that they have to pursue income from product placement because advances in technology make it easier for viewers to skip traditional TV commercials.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff