Product placement in the UK is heavily controlled by the communications regulator, Ofcom. As of 14th February 2011, Ofcom allowed television operators within the UK to use product placement as a method of advertising. Product placement is when a company, such as Sony, pay programmes makers and television channel operators to place their product into their programmes.
An example is the Sony Vaio laptop being shown in use by “Mark Zuckerburg”, in “The Social Network”.
Ofcom limits product placement heavily, including restrictions on the types of products that can be placed, what types of programs they can be placed in and limits in the way they can be seen and referred to, in these programmes. These limits include types of programme, such as news programmes or children’s TV shows. This is why news shows often cover up the laptop’s logo with their own.
Restrictions about the type of product that can be advertised include those such as cigarettes, and other items which have serious health consequences.
When product placement is about to occur, the product placement watermark must be displayed for 3 seconds at the end and beginning of the programme and it’s advertising breaks, to warn viewers of what is going to be displayed (it’s a common thought that product placement to subliminally trigger viewers into purchasing the product).