Tuesday, January 21

The Subliminal Persuaders And The Letter P

Meaning of 'P' on Television screen

It's always fascinating when answers to a question come about all by themselves.

Last night Karin was watching a soap on television she quite likes. As it started she noticed the letter 'P' at the bottom of the screen. She asked me what it meant.

I'd noticed this myself several times prior to the start of programmes, but had never made any effort to find out what it signified. "Must find out," I muttered and immediately forgot all about it.

Today I bought a newspaper and, when I got home, opened it up at random to page 60 and found the answer to the question!

It seems that the 'P' has been around (in the UK) since 2011, though surveys have shown that very few people know what it means: Product Placement.

This is something I believe originated in the USA, and to me it's a form of brainwashing - though that's probably a little over the top. As the letter in the Daily Mail newspaper (21 Jan 2014) explained:

"Product Placement ... that means some companies are advertising their products discreetly in that programme. For instance in Coronation Street it is advertising the National Building Society, so if you watch the programme you will see a National cash machine in Dev's corner shop."

So, as well as having obvious commercial breaks full of ads, there are now hidden persuaders within the actual programmes themselves.

There are rules about product placement - see the Ofcom website - but, whatever is said, it's surely a form of subliminal advertising, which was once banned.

These hidden persuaders are difficult to avoid wherever we look. Did we really want to buy or drink that can of Coke or consider a National Building Society account? How many of our thoughts are really our own? Or maybe Big Brother is at work?

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  1. It happens a lot in movies. When a character is using a Mac, for instance, that's probably product placement! It strikes me as brainwashing, too.

  2. Intensive advertising has the opposite effect on me! Certainly doesn't pursuade me to buy or use a particular product. If something is good and works then it will sell itself. Having said that, I've never noticed the P symbol before, now I guess I'll be looking for it everywhere!