We recently received an email from someone who asked, "What is the difference between a 'product placement' and a 'video news release' (VNR)? Is a VNR a type of product placement?" Since other people might have the same question, I thought I'd post my answer here. On SourceWatch, we have articles about both topics. As our article about video news releases explains, a VNR is a piece of video that is created (typically by a public relations firm on behalf of a paying client) and designed to look like a news segment for broadcast by TV news programs. It deceives audiences by creating the impression that the "news" they see on TV was produced by independent reporters, when in fact VNRs are promotional pieces designed to sell something for a client whose identity is not always disclosed. TV news shows often deny that they use VNRs, but Diane Farsetta, our senior researcher, has done extensive research in which she found numerous examples of the practice. "Product placement" is a separate but similarly sneaky practice of getting television programs and movies to display a company's product within their program.
Arts / Culture
Charter Communications, one of the largest Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the U.S., recently sent letters to some of its 2.7 million customers with details of a new initiative. "Charter is billing its new web tracking program as an 'enhancement' for customers' web surfing experience. ... The pilot program is set to begin next month.
On June 6, limos will be lined up, the red carpet will be rolled out, and decked out attendees will have their photos snapped by swarming paparazzi. But this isn't your usual Hollywood awards ceremony.
When some people in the audience at the premiere of the new Dr. Suess movie "Horton Hears a Who" started yelling "A person's a person no matter how small," others thought they were just over-enthusiastic Dr. Suess fans. Instead, it turned out that a pack of anti-abortion activists had hijacked the elephant star's famous line to promote their view that abortion should be banned.
Want to earn up to $2.4 million to produce and distribute across Iraq 12 issues of a comic book designed to "highlight the professionalism of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) and to enhance the public perception of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) as a capable, well-trained, and professional fighting force"? Well, you'll have to compete with the Lincoln Group, the PR firm that previously placed U.S.
The Center for Media and Democracy has never been shy about criticizing the public relations industry. That's what we do, and we're proud of it. You'd think that this would give PR people second thoughts before sending us their drivel. Unfortunately, they can't seem to help themselves -- even when that means that they end up tipping us off to their own efforts at sneaking product placements into TV shows such as American Idol.
Actress Suzanne Pleshette's recent death from "respiratory distress" was sad. Most of the articles about it briefly mention that she had been fighting lung cancer, but fail to mention that she had been a cigarette smoker in the past. Cigarette smoking is the single biggest cause of lung cancer.
It is rarely discussed, but tobacco has taken an extraordinarily heavy toll on Hollywood. The list of beloved celebrities killed by smokers' diseases is huge, and growing: George Harrison, Johnny Carson, Dana Reeve, Yul Brynner, Lucille Ball, Walt Disney, Nat King Cole, Joe DiMaggio, Michael Landon, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Betty Grable, and Babe Ruth to name just a few. Despite this, the failure to mention a person's smoking history in obituary columns is the norm in celebrity deaths. In just one glaring example, a four page obituary about the 2005 death of prominent news anchor Peter Jennings published by his own network, ABC, fails to mention the contribution that smoking made to Jennings' tragic and untimely death. A CNN's column about Jennings' death didn't mention it either. Something is up when major news organizations omit any mention the single most prominent cause of the death of a renowned news anchor.
The General Chairman of Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection, Seto Mulyadi, called tobacco companies' corporate social responsibility programs "hidden cigarette campaigns." Mulyadi said that cigarette companies "do free advertising through their CSR programs." Mulyadi is proposing a complete ban on cigarette advertising in Indonesia, after a study by the country's Pub
'Tis the season of gift giving, and of retailers trying to grab as much of their market share as they can. While encouraging consumerism and excessive consumption, sellers also seek to tap into nobler urges toward benevolence and charity at this time of year.