Last year (2012) when I sat down to watch The X Factor, I was surprised to see the contestants sitting there using Samsung tablets. I would have expected, honestly, for them to be using iPads, for no other reason than these were at the time far and away the most popular tablets in the market.
As the weeks went on I kept seeing Samsung tablets in the show. Eventually I discovered that The X Factor was one of the first TV programmes in the UK to use product placement. Although this had been illegal in the UK since the dawn of television, the law had been changed in February 2011 to allow it.
The rules of product placement in the UK is that the products must be “editorially justifiable”, which means it must be relevant to what the programme is about. The programme must also feature a “P” symbol at the start of the programme and after every ad break.
This year Samsung seems to have gone all out. Last week one of the contestants when being interviewed during the show even referred to “my Samsung”. It’s even managed to get into the press for “shameless plugging” of devices. Which, I guess is still publicity and hence is rather the point.
What I do like about the product placement is that it’s showing the devices in a natural setting. Whilst I’m pretty sure everyone using those devices would choose an iOS device over the Samsung if they had a choice, at least it shows them being used in a believable way.
Digging into this further I found that Nokia had done a deal with Hollyoaks to feature Lumia devices on the show for a few months back in 2012.
It’s interesting that the two dominant product placement deals in UK television have been around post-PC devices.