Friday, May 11, 2018

The new TV reality

The video above is an ad, the long version of one currently running on New Zealand TV. It’s one example of how cross-promotion is now endemic, and this is just one example. The ad is an ad, they can do whatever they want. But the overall trend of embedded ads is not a all good.

The fact an ad promoted an otherwise irrelevant and unrelated thing—a movie—is kind of a non-issue by itself, made more so by the clever use of Mission: Impossible imagery. Ads advertising two things is probably not a big deal of and by itself—they’re still paid ads, after all. The problem is, that’s not where it ends.

TVNZ has been running a series of promotional messages for things that aren’t actually ads—such as, how to make a complaint to the Broadcast Standards Authority, for example—but doing so as promotions for the movie Deadpool 2. I have no opinion on that movie—since I didn’t see the first one—but the merits of the movie are entirely beside the point. TVNZ us using messages that aren’t normally ads to promote one particular movie, and that feels incredibly wrong.

TVNZ is owned by New Zealanders. It’s required to pay a dividend to the Crown, and operates as if it’s just like any for-profit broadcaster. This advertising campaign latched onto something else shows how uncomfortably those two realities coexist.

We deserve clearer boundaries.

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