December 12, 2005
The Writer's Guild on Product Placement

An article on Wired today documents the frustration of television writers who are tired of mandated product placement and want additional compensation for writing commercial messages into their work.

Last month, the Writer's Guild of America, along with the Screen Actors Guild, called for a "Code of Conduct" for product placement in television and film, citing "the public's right to be informed of such advertising." Statistics provided by the Writer's Guild press release indicate the rising rate of product placements in television and film:

"Last year, the use of products in filmed entertainment increased 44 percent and generated revenues in excess of $1 billion. In television alone, product-related revenues skyrocketed a whopping 84 percent."

The proposed Code of Conduct would include rules about disclosure of product integration deals and restrictions on product placement in children's media; but also at issue is compensation for writers and actors. Guild members believe that incorporating products into their stories is beyond their job description: "...along with being asked to create memorable stories and characters, our writers are being told to perform the function of ad copywriter." The whitepaper available with the press release calls for negotiation between producers and writers about additional compensation.

If their demands are not met, the Writer's Guild threatens to involve the FCC because broadcasters are bound by law to make sponsors public.