7 Years on: UK Viewers Positive about Product Placement …but could it be used more?


7 Years on: UK Viewers Positive about Product Placement …but could it be used more?

Back in 2011, after years of lobbying, UK broadcasters finally won their bid to relax the law on product placement, overcoming resistance from politicians who had feared a US-style excess of advertising on our screens. Seven years later, an extension to the Coronation Street set – bringing Costa and Co-op shops to Weatherfield – is now putting product placement at the fore of one of Britain’s best-loved TV shows. But it’s one of only a few high-profile examples of UK product placement since 2011- and the latest research from TRP Surveys suggests we are far from being overwhelmed by this form of advertising: in fact many viewers aren’t even aware of its use here.   

Several years on from the change in law, the UK public’s awareness of product placement is fairly low – just over half of viewers (52%) are even aware that it is legal in the UK and only 27% have noticed product placement in a UK TV show. Although 30% recalled seeing the P symbol that denotes placement is coming up in the proceeding show, only 22% knew what the symbol meant.  

And it seems the viewers don’t mind. If programme makers are concerned that product placement might turn viewers off, there’s little evidence that that’s a cause for concern: according to our survey, 67% say they have no opinion on product placement and 11% actually like it. As one survey participant commented, “I don’t mind it at all, if anything it makes the programme more real and relatable”, a sentiment echoed by some others. Others mentioned they found product placement less intrusive than ad breaks. 15% aren’t keen on the concept but felt that it wouldn’t affect their enjoyment of a show. Only 7% said it would affect enjoyment. And these results are not just apparent in abstract: when asked specifically about use of product placement within Coronation Street, viewers of the soap were equally unworried – 69% of viewers were ambivalent but a sizeable proportion – 14% – claimed to like it. 

Although Costa cups and Co-op carrier bags have featured during the on-screen drama for many months now, so far only 30% of Coronation Street viewers have noticed product placement within the soap, though that may well increase when the set extension is incorporated into the plot. Although viewers may not be conscious of the endorsements, there is already some evidence that the placement has been advantageous to the two brands. Our survey showed positive results for top-of-the-head brand recall, brand recognition and brand perception for both Costa and Co-op among Coronation Street viewers. Speaking generally, only 4% of those surveyed admit buying a product based on placement but 9% have acted in some other way – such as researching a product or discussing it.

The huge take-up of subscription TV services in recent years – and the accompanying influx of US show on our screens – has no doubt helped pave the way for acceptance of product placement among the public – who appear to take a more pragmatic approach than the politicians who fought product placement in the early part of this century. We may still be far behind the US in terms of the proliferation of product placement on our screens but it’s clear UK broadcasters need not be shy of utilizing its effects.

TRP Surveys is a UK-wide media survey, run by media research agency TRP Research. We run regular omnibus surveys on any media-related questions and provide quick turnaround of results, with insight and analysis included as standard and a guaranteed sample of 1,000 nationally-representative responses. Our pricing structure is simple – closed end questions (single choice, multiple choice, matrix) cost £175+ VAT and open end questions cost £200+ VAT.

If you’d like to know more, contact Laura Piper (lpiper@trpresearch.com) or James Aspinall (jaspinall@trpresearch.com)

To compliment TRP Surveys we offer a range of Media Monitoring services including monitoring promotional activity, sponsorship and product placement. We have developed in-house hardware and software solutions to allow us to identify and track on-screen content on behalf of our clients across 65+ channels, 365 days a year, to offer a tailored service to meet our clients’ individual needs. Our media monitoring reports can be linked to audience data and provide further insight into total screen time versus audiences reached and the effect on brand perception and association to sponsored content. This information can provide you with an independent assessment of specific campaigns and provide competitor brand insights across the market.

If you’d like to know more, contact Joanne Tingay (jtingay@trpresearch.com)

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