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Public Leery at Ad-funded TV Programs, Warns AAF

News, 16 June 2004

Speaking at the American Advertising Federation's conference in Dallas, outgoing AAF chairman Carla Michelotti urged advertisers and agencies to take special care when planning branded entertainment deals [WAMN: 11-Jun-04]. Similarly global marketing campaigns.

Michelotti, evp/general counsel at Leo Burnett, told delegates that consumers remain leery over both developments, especially as industry standards for the former are as yet nebulous. "The blending [of marketing with entertainment] is going to be subject to a lot of regulation," she warned.

Ownership of intellectual property was also a minefield for those who want to insinuate their product into a movie or a song, cautioned Michelotti: "There are a variety of people who own intellectual property. One of the most complicated things … is finding who are you doing the deal with."

And there's likewise a plethora of banana-skins strewn in the path of those planning global ad campaigns.

Doug Wood, a New York marketing lawyer, cited a case from Sweden where a print ad had to be withdrawn because its main visual element -- a woman in undergarments seductively eyeing a man -- was viewed as being stereotypical.

Two other examples of ad-provoked culture clashes. Saudi Arabia banned a Benetton ad featuring three kids with their tongues out, "because it's illegal in that country to show a human organ".

And in Malaysia a Toyota ad featuring Brad Pitt fell foul of the locals as it contained nary an indigenous citizen. "The Malaysian authorities thought it was insulting that all [the ad] showed were pretty Caucasians," Wood reported.

The AAF represents 130 corporate members with a collective payroll of 50,000 professionals within the US advertiser, agency and media sectors.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff