Prospect Of Magazine Product Placement Raises Little Legal Concern

If advertisers and publishers were able to agree on a version of product placement in magazines, there would be little argument from the legal world.

Magazines already cross this line frequently in the form of advertorials, said advertising and marketing legal expert Doug Wood of Reed Smith Hall Dickler.

"I don't think it is a legal issue," Wood said. "The print medium has to decide what they want."

Rick Sirvaitis, president and chief operating officer of General Motors Corp.'s media-buying arm GM Mediaworks, had raised the suggestion of advertisers exploring magazine product placement at the American Magazine Conference earlier this week.

To find any fault with magazine product placements, "it would have to be a deceptive argument," said Wood. "You are supposed to not confuse the line between editorial and advertising so that consumers know it is an ad." That is why advertorials frequently include the heading "Advertisement" on their pages.

In the case of a deceptive product placement in a magazine, "it would have to be substantiated," he said. "This is really an editorial issue."

Wood gave the example of a car manufacturer paying to have its images appear in a magazine's photographs. In that case, there would be little to argue about legally unless the magazine's corresponding editorial made references to or claims about the featured car brand. Such an instance may grab the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, said Wood.



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