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Product Placement And Advertising Law

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - When you got engaged, did you ask her father before you proposed – or her jeweler?

In the season finale of American Idol, two romantically-involved former Idol contestants were brought to the stage when one dropped to his knees, and gallantly asked for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage by saying, “with the help of David Webb jewelry, I have a way to make this last forever”.

Nothing says heartfelt romance like blatant product placement. And while the laws of good taste clearly were broken, what about the laws that govern advertising?

Under the law, a broadcaster is required to disclose whether it was paid to place a product or embed advertising in its programs because viewers have the right to know if an advertiser is trying to influence them. Often, programmers comply by having a mention of the sponsorship in the tiny, fast moving credits at the end.

So, whether or not the Idol producers or contestant were paid in cash or diamond to mention David Webb on the air, has not been disclosed, nor has whether he was asked to mention the jeweler in his romantic moment. In any event, it’s a lesson to us all that while true love may be alive, it, like everything else on tv, is for sale so viewers should always ask if someone’s paying for it.

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