Should viewers be told about product integration in shows?
Interesting piece over at Nikki Finke's site. While everyone is concentrating on a possible actors strike (the deadline is Monday for SAG to make an agreement), there's another little controversy going on. The Writers Guild of America West has asked the FCC to look into the ever-increasing habit of product integration in network shows. Not only does the WGA want to see the use of products on television eased up, which the FCC is already looking into, they also want to go one step further and make viewers fully aware that they are seeing an ad.
And how would the networks do that?
The WGA wants "real-time" disclosure, which basically means they want to see a crawl at the bottom of the screen when product placement is happening in a scene, similar to crawls for sports scores, weather, other news, and ads for other shows. They want to see this during the show because they don't feel a disclosure at the start or end of a show would be as noticeable or as effective.
Part of me fully understands why viewers should know it's a paid ad they're seeing (though I would hope viewers would know that already), however, a crawl in the middle of a TV show seems like a weird idea.
What do you think of this idea? Do you already assume that it's an ad when you see someone talking about Snapple or a cool car on a TV show? What should the networks do to tell viewers, if anything?