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Product placement in broadcasting: Twitter and Facebook
Thermos flask or thermal cylinder? Hoover or vacuum? Google it or search for it? Sellotape or sticky tape? Certain brands become so popular their names are used as generic terms in every day language. This is the same for Facebook and Twitter – companies are focusing on the two dominant social networking platforms to promote their products or services. Many broadcasting services ask people to ‘join the conversation’ on Twitter or to ‘like’ their Facebook page, but why should Facebook and Twitter get special treatment over other social networking platforms?
In France, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), France’s media regulator, has banned the naming of Facebook and Twitter in broadcasting unless it is specific to a news story. The banning of these brands has caused a divided opinion – is this move to try and ban product placement from broadcasting or is it limiting freedom of speech?
Facebook and Twitter have become public social networking sites but people tend to forget that they are billion-dollar companies making large profits. The reason France’s media regulator has banned the use of these companies is because product placement is not allowed within broadcasting. Why is it fair to favour one social networking platform over another? Their argument is that Facebook and Twitter get enough promotion already, never mind being mentioned on television and radio. Now more generic terms will have to be used in France – ‘join the conversation on the popular social networking site’ or ‘like us on your favourite social platform’. It doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it?
It seems the fairest (though not most practical) approach is to ban the use of social networking brands in broadcasting. However, it will be hard to adjust to using generic terms when Facebook and Twitter have been so dominant in the media. All brands that are now ‘genericized’ trademarks have earned their right to this status, and why should it be taken away from them?