Unions protest product placement
by Karina Longworth, posted Nov 14th 2005 11:02AM
Two of Hollywood's biggest labor unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America, have banded together to oppose product placement on TV. Here's the thing: you've got your PVR, and you're trying to inhale 6 episodes of Desperate Housewives in one sitting, so, of course, you're skipping the ads. Because advertisers are – surprise! – not stupid, they've started brokering side deals with content creators to essentially insert commercials for their stuff into the scripts. And so, you feel like you're socking it to the man every time you zap through a car commercial, and yet, there's Eva Longoria on Housewives, heaping exuberant praise on Buick cars. The WGA was expected to publicly release a "position paper" in protest this morning; it's most damning line reads, "We are being told to write the lines that sell this merchandise, and to deftly disguise the sale as story. Our writers are being told to perform the function of ad copywriter, but to disguise this as storytelling." Ouch. SAG is mad too – but a statement from their president, Alan Rosenberg, reveals the less-than-altruistic motivations behind all this. "The sharp increase of product placement in film and television too often takes place without any compensation to the very performers that are expected to push those products and more often is done without any consultation with those performers." Money and power – what else could it possibly all be about?