Product Placement in Ireland


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While product placement may be a common feature of television and film here in the United States, it is interesting to note that product placement is not as prevalent in other countries with certain regulations in place. With St. Patrick’s Day just over it may be a bit of ‘craic’ (for those not familiar with the Irish lingo, that’s Irish for fun!) to take a deeper look at product placement in Ireland.

Product Placement is relatively new to Ireland, and was only introduced as recently as 2011. However it is becoming more and more normal a part of Irish television. In this blog,  Hollywood Branded provides the history and current marketing practice of how product placement in Ireland operates. 

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A Brief History of Product Placement in Ireland

The recent trend towards product placement is not unique to Ireland, with the introduction of paid product placement to Ireland occurring at roughly the same timeas it was introduced in the UK. To find out more about product placement in the UK, check out our previous blog here. Paid Product Placement was actually prohibited in Ireland in May 2011, with top brands almost being non-existent in Irish productions before that.

The rules of product placement in Ireland were set out by BAI, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, who act as the main broadcasting regulator in the country. The change was included in the revised General and Children’s Commercial Communications codes released by the BAI that year. It is important to understand the time in which product placement was allowed on Irish television directly correlates to the time when skipping commercials became more popular.

While that was the case, the BAI agreed that it was important to keep tight regulations on product placement, which perhaps separates product placement in Ireland from that in the United States.

What Has Been Allowed

Irish product placement is permitted in films, sport, TV drama, and light entertainment shows, while restrictions apply to children’s programming, docu-drama series and talks shows featuring more than 20% news and current affairs elements. In addition, it must be relatively clear that the program features product placement. This includes the addition of a visual “PP” sign as well as companies engaged in product placement being listed in the end credits. The BAI also has some additional restrictions on some brands such as medicine, alcohol and betting services. 

While it may seem strange for product placement to have only been introduced to Ireland and other nations in this decade, it is important to note that while product placement was forbidden, sponsorship was not. The main difference between sponsorship and product placement is that sponsorship occurs at the start and end of commercial breaks, separating itself from the content within the show. Thus, sponsorship is seen as a more direct advertisement, while product placement occurs within a show and can be less obvious.

The BAI defines the difference as such and also states that sponsorship may include the supply of products and services which are not considered product placement as long as there is not payment to the broadcaster and that the services and goods supplied do not exceed a specific amount which, when the code was written in 2011 was €5,000.

Television in Ireland

To explain product placement in Irish TV it may be useful to briefly look at the TV landscape in Ireland. It is important to note that Ireland has 6 main channels, RTE One and RTE Two, owned by national broadcaster, Radio Telifis Eireann, TV3, 3e and Be3 owned by commercial broadcaster TV3 Group and TG4 the Irish-language network. The rest of Ireland’s channels come directly from the UK with some channels offering an Irish commercial feed.

Irish Product Placement Today

When product placement was made available to Irish broadcasters, it became used by productions almost immediately and to this day, continues to grow.

Soap operas are one of the key avenues for product placement, as they are a primary source of scripted Irish television productions. One of the first big product placement deals in Ireland occurred between RTE and convenience store Spar. As part of this deal, worth €900,000, the Spar brand features heavily in the soap opera Fair City, with characteres shopping frequently in the Spar store.

When the TV3 soap opera Red Rock was launched in 2015, it was used as a prime opportunity for product placement. Some of the product placement in Red Rock includes convenience store Costcutters, a Credit Union and the circulation of the Irish Daily Mail. Red Rock, however was not the first product placement deal for TV3 with Kenco featuring on mugs during The Morning Show in 2011, and the Great Irish Bake Off featuring Odlum's branding.

While, there are certain restrictions, product placement is becoming more common in Ireland. In 2015, it was reported that standard product placement packages from RTE and TV3 ranged from  €1,000 to €15,000 for each appearance. 2017 has seen a further leap for product placement in Ireland with the first digital product placement taking place just this year.

Digital Product Placement

Red Rock, the popular Irish soap opera which airs on TV3 in a weekly prime-time position, featured Ireland’s first ever digital product placement made in post-production on Monday March 6th 2017. The placement saw a poster advertising TV3’s  owner Virgin Media appearing in the background in some scenes of the episode.

For the placement, TV3’s sales division teamed up with digital company Mirriad. Mirriad’s product placement techniques have been used around the world with previous placements including Australian soap opera Home and Away and UK game show Deal or no Deal (Credit: Irish Times)

Continued Growth Of A Marketing Practice

Product Placement continures to develop in the Republic of Ireland, with it becoming more and more part of Irish television and film. To put your brand on the big or small screen check out our guide to product placement.

Are you interested in integrating product placement into your entertainment marketing mix, but simply don’t know where to start? There is so much more to product placement than you may think,  and it is important to be educated about the key tactics to best fit your brand. Download our Product Placement 101 Infographic today to start learning more!

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