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Film Partnerships...

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...or product placement/licence agreements.

In my review of Iron Man yesterday, I neglected to mention the crass product placement throughout the film. We saw an LG phone used on more than one occasion, with the US network, Verizon, getting an on-screen namecheck too. Then there was Audi. One scene of Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) driving his R8 was shot in such a manner that it actually felt like a car commercial. And in another scene, it was an Audi 4x4 that a family felt threatened in.

But the crassest piece of product placement came when Tony Stark returned to the US from his confinement in Afghanistan and announced that he wanted an "American cheesburger." Shortly thereafter, one his mandarins hands Stark a prominently labelled Burger King paper bag from which emerges a burger of some nature. Again the Burger King branding is clear for all to see.

This week, there was an attack in the press aimed at Burger King for another movie tie-in with Indiana Jones. Burger King are giving away toys to people who buy meals. These toys are aimed at the under 12s, a market that Burger King had promised not to target. I have some sympathies because although the latest instalment in the Indy franchise is a 12A, the movie undoubtedly targets kids, even if its star is of pensionable age.

But the use of fast food is the least of my real concerns for the new Indy film. Surely the licencing agreement that just goes too far is the National Lottery Indy scratchcard. Featuring Harrison Ford in full Indy regalia on the front, and being advertised by an abysmal national TV and cinema commercial (which notably doesn't feature Harrison Ford or any clips from the film, this is an appalling piece of advertising on every level.

Yes, many Indy fans probably are of a similar age to myself, having been a teenager or younger when Raiders first came out and well over the minimum age to be allowed to gamble, but given the full array of Indy toy merchandise to be seen, it's clear that children are still fans of the series. If the screening I went to see the film is anything to go by, they're still the main target market for the film's distributors.

The advertising code prohibits the targeting gambling advertising to children. Section 11.10.2 reads:

(a) Advertisements for gambling must not exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young persons or other vulnerable persons.

(b) Advertisements for gambling must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.

(c) No child or young person may be included in a gambling advertisement. No-one who is, or seems to be, under 25 years old may be featured gambling or playing a significant role. No-one may behave in an adolescent, juvenile or loutish way.

So the National Lottery must consider that Indiana Jones is not "of particular appeal to children or young persons"? At least that's my reading of the code. Maybe the National Lottery/Camelot has some kind of internal documentation to prove that this is the case, but I find it very disturbing that an action hero that appeals to children is being used to promote gambling.

Of course, lottery outlets don't allow the sale of lottery tickets or scratchcards to under 16s, but then we all know that kids don't find ways of getting hold of alcohol or cigarettes either...

Personally I think that both the National Lottery and Paramount are culpable in a licencing deal too far.

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