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An ethical evaluation of product placement: a deceptive practice?

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Product placement, the practice of placing brands into non-advertising media, is a growing marketing phenomenon, which has received relatively little attention from business ethicists. Such attention is timely because the UK regulatory framework for television product placement is under review at the time of writing. In this paper, we seek to locate product placement in relation to traditional frameworks of marketing ethics. We suggest that this location is problematic because product placement is a form of marketing communication in which the message, the sender and the precise intention behind a brand seen in a television (TV) show, movie or computer game are often implicit. We suggest that the possibilities for an ethically principled regulation of product placement rest on two key issues: (1) the extent to which programme makers, media owners and brand owners make their product placement strategies explicit to audiences, and (2) the degree of commercial sophistication, which regulators attribute to non-expert entertainment audiences.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Marketing at the School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK; 2: Lecturer in European and International Business Policy at the School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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