Acting on a complaint from Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson, the regulator said the image of Weisz’s face had been altered in post-production and had “substantially changed her complexion to make it appear smoother and more even” and “misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product”. The advert for Revitalift Repair 10 featured a close-up, black and white photograph of Weisz.
The ASA received five complaints that the ads were misleading because they implied that Waitrose pigs “spent the duration of their lives outdoors”, when in fact they were reared indoors “in confined conditions after a few weeks”.
Waitrose said “outdoor bred” was a standard term that had become widely used in recent years to mean pigs born in fields but then moved indoors “into light and airy sheds with straw”. The company added that it deliberately avoided using the phrase “outdoor reared”, which would have been misleading.
However, the ASA said that while the term “outdoor bred” may be “commonly understood in the pig farming industry” the average viewer would not be aware of its particular meaning.
“By its nature product placement allows marketing to be integrated into programmes, blurring the distinction between advertising and editorial, and is not always recognisable. Studies show that children are particularly susceptible to embedded brand messages and these operate at a subconscious level.”
Their concern was echoed last night by Prof Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He said: “As a consumer I’m worried that the quality of drama programmes will suffer because there may be a focus towards selling a product rather than developing a storyline. But as a doctor, I’m really worried that programmes could be selling alcohol and unhealthy foods, especially sweet foods and fatty foods targeted at children.
Bree arrives home in a new silver Lexus and all the other Desperate Housewives gather round to admire it. James Bond taps into a terror network using a Sony laptop. In Moonlight, Beth Turner takes a picture of the crime scene with her iPhone…
All of the above are examples of product placement, a form of advertising in which the products are incorporated into the drama. Recent James Bond films have featured some outrageous examples, such as a character admiring Bond’s watch, or unnecessary dwelling on the screen of his mobile phone. There’s even an official James Bond beer.
On TV, Desperate Housewives is probably the show with the most over the top placement – considering Susan is supposed to be broke, and Carlos and Gabby bankrupt, the Scavos also in financial difficulties following the collapse of their restaurant, and Mike Delfino struggling – it doesn’t stop all those brand-new cars from turning up in the neighbourhood.
ITV have been putting pressure on the British government to change the rules in the UK. It does seem unfair that imported American shows and films can have it, but home-grown dramas cannot. Now, according to the BBC, the ban is about to be lifted. The Guardian reports it here. This might prove to be the salvation of ITV and Channel 4. Coronation Street drinkers in the Rover’s Return can now drink real branded beers (unless alcohol advertising is banned); Foyle can now use a Motorola phone to call the RAF in Foyle’s War (perhaps not); Lewis can now ride around Oxford on a Trek bicycle. I’m sure they’ll think of something.
While this might introduce a new revenue stream for the broadcasters, it hardly helps the creative side of the advertising industry. We’re heading down the road of simply negotiating a placement in a show, leaving it up to the writers to incorporate it in such a way that the viewers won’t turn off. For the Tarquins and Marcuses in the creative agencies, not much work. No animated Nissans or singing builders dreaming about chips.
They either take a long time investigating these things, or they’ve got a really slow calculator.
The interesting thing here is that not a single one of these complaints was upheld by the ASA. One was withdrawn by the company concerned when they heard about the complaint.
Some of the complaints did seem preposterous, but I wonder whether the people who complained now see the ASA as being on the side of the industry?
Manchester United 2 – Inter Milan 0
Roma Rangers 1 – Arsenal Town 0
In this Guardian column, Roger Browning gets sweet revenge for what he perceived as poor customer service by explaining how he complained to the ASA about Apple’s iPhone 3G advertising.
The ASA has now adjudicated and instructed Apple to withdraw the advertising. Just 17 people complained about the ad – I wonder if all of them did it to get revenge on Apple for some perceived slight? Just 17 just goes to show how much influence a small number of people can have – it’s a lot fewer than complained about the Brand/Ross thing at the BBC… eventually.
Was Apple’s ad misleading? Is their current ad about the App Store misleading? You bet. The 30-second advert has to miss out some steps in order to fit into its time slot, which it says on the bottom of the screen. But it also shows how you can use the audio phrasebook to ask for a good restaurant in China. Fine – great idea – it’s almost Star Trek, it’s almost the “universal translator”. What the ad doesn’t show you is how confused you’re about to get when the Chinese person you’ve just asked about restaurants starts to reply – in Chinese – and how useless your iPhone is then.
But these fanboys get on my nerves. First of all, never buy direct from Apple. Buy from a dealer with an established record of customer service, because Apple’s has always been bad. Buy from John Lewis, if you’re a consumer, or Jigsaw if you’re in business. Second of all, this guy is careless enough to get his iPhone stolen: why does that become a customer service issue for Apple? So they’re out of stock of a popular product that’s just been launched, and can’t replace it immediately: get over yourself and, you know, wait.
So, who do I get to complain to about Apple fanboys? Oftw@t?