Is product placement a Spectre haunting the media world?

With a new Bond film comes a sudden surge of 007 experts. Spectre, the latest release, saw cinemas packed out and suddenly my Twitter feed played host to self-appointed movie critiques and cinematographers. Unbeknownst to the masses, the not so subtle product placement - synonymous of Bond movies – had crept into the minds of the viewers as they commented on luxury brands endorsed within the movie.

However, it’s not just the big screen that is susceptible to the endorsement treatment. We now live in a world where your social media presence can offer you an alternative to a ‘regular’ job (that can be extremely lucrative) as brands have noticed the pull that social media influencers have via their platforms.

Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and a variety of other social media platforms have become virtual workplaces and individuals can earn income via brand deals and by far the most notorious for this is YouTube.

Due to an Oreo fuelled debacle in 2014, there was a shift in YouTube protocol. Confectionary conglomerate Mondelez enrolled YouTubers to take part in an Oreo licking challenge (yes, really) to promote a new product. The Youtubers were given a brief and paid to create specific videos with editorial guidance from the brand. However, last year, a complaint was made to the ASA (Advertising Standard Authority) that the commercial content was not obvious enough due to the videos keeping to the style of the individuals’ usual content and thus undistinguishable from the vloggers non-sponsored videos.

It is now mandatory for videos that contain commercial material from the brand via the vlogger to be distinguished with ‘AD’ in the thumbnail and title of the video. Failure to do so can not only tarnish reputations, but is also considered a criminal offence, as the viewer must be aware when they are being marketed to so that they can make informed decisions.

The social media advertising pool is still extremely muddy as some content providers consider the declaration of ‘AD’ a dent on their credibility as it is widely agreed that you do not whole heartedly trust the word of an individual paid to promote products.

Product placement within the Bond movie franchise is often questionable but harmless. Bond movie viewers are enthralled by 007’s lifestyle of seduction, drinking and fast cars and take it for what is. This awareness of product placement allows the Bond franchise to sell a lifestyle (or not) to an older, more affluent and aspirational audience.

A fourteen-year-old social media fanatic with WIFI access is inevitably naïve to the advertising ways of YouTube and if the creator momentarily ‘forgets’ to include ‘AD’ in the designated spaces the life-changing glittery moisturiser is believed to be just that and instantly gets put on the Christmas list…despite the vlogger forgetting to take the seal off the pot.

With YouTube only reporting statistics of users aged 18 and up, billions of teenagers that inevitably make up one of the largest demographics of social media users are statistically invisible and therefore any concerns on their online experience goes unrecognised. The World Wide Web is not a place restricted to adults and although under 18s cannot be protected from every internet nasty surely it is not too much to suggest that vast corporations such as YouTube should crack down on misleading content and ensure all creators abide by the rules.

Before you brandish the pitchforks towards all vloggers - thinking every single individual is pushing products for pay - rest assured that the vast majority of content creators give full disclosure or do not dabble in sponsored content. As a relatively successful YouTuber myself I feel like I have behind-the-scenes access to the camera shy side of working in social media that consumers aren’t aware of. However, for every crafty video there are thousands more providing inspiring and trustworthy information.


  1. Very well written Amber! Food for thought! x

  2. Omg this is so relevant as just yesterday I was saying this watching the newest transformers and I truck crashed n Budweiser fell on the floor and he drank it like an advert lol it's getting sickening it's almost like they're not trying to even hide it anymore lol great read!! Love you addressed it Cali, xxx