There was an interesting study published previously in the year 2001, which surveyed college going film enthusiasts in the United States, France, Austria and Singapore. These participants were questioned on their “views on the acceptability and ethics of placements.” (Charlesworth & Glantz, 2005, p.1516) A majority of American participants saw placements as a form of paid advertising (not many saw it as a medium of creative expression). This is an expected response, as anyone with basic education and little common sense would have figured the real proposition of product-placements (Charlesworth & Glantz, 2005, p.1516). But more significantly, a majority of American subjects stated that they were less concerned with the ethical aspects of placement and don’t care if proper regulations and restrictions are imposed by the government. They were also more open to buying products placed in the film compared to subjects from other countries. We can trace the link between the three components of policy making: public pressure/support, response from legislators, regulations pertaining to commercial activities. In this particular case, weak pressure from public led to complacent response from legislators, which in turn led to commercial exploitation and opportunism. But this is not the complete story. After all, the survey was confined to one community (college students) and one age-group. So, inconclusive as the results may be, it is an indicator of the general tendencies (Karrh, et.al., 2007, p,139). This situation also suggests that meaningful regulation is unlikely to come from public pressure (due to their indifference); and hence it is up to the legislators and policy makers to initiate reforms.
We would expect the key players in any industry to support practices favorable to the bottom-line. The product placement industry is not immune to the profit motive either. Of course, there were dissenting voices within the industry as well. But as with the history of dissent, they are a small and powerless minority. We now understand the industry’s role in the growth of the practice. But this is not the whole story and the debate does not stop here. Even if the general public might have been indifferent or even complicit with the concept of placement, it still does not vindicate the industry. (Newell, et.al., 2006, p.578)
When it comes to public industry regulation, the United States had fallen behind many countries. Countries in the European Union, Canada, Australia and even Israel have come up with reasonable measures of restraint. To fix a problem, it first has to be acknowledged. Going by the reports in the mainstream American press, there is apparently nothing wrong with the practice. This puts an end to all further progress. In contrast, other countries mentioned above all recognize product placement as an “advertised message” (Gould, et.al, 2000, p.41). Clearly, the European approach to product placement implies different value systems on either side of the Atlantic. And legislators in the U.S. would do well to follow the example set by their European counterparts. (Russell, 2005, p.85)
The United States law sees public communication as one of two things. All communication falls under 1.Broadcasting or 2.Commercial speech. The rules set for commercial speech are elaborate, fair and balanced. But the broadcasting industry has always enjoyed greater freedoms benefiting from such clauses as “freedom of expression”, “artistic freedom”, etc (Gould, et.al, 2000, p.41). Hence, the broadcasting industry has largely been unregulated. Since films and other entertainment products fall under the broadcasting category, product placement gets a free ride alongside. In other words,