Legal Guidelines for Including Product Placement in Your Movie or Television Series

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August 6, 2017

Legal Guidelines for Including Product Placement in Your Movie or Television Series

We often discuss influencer marketing here at Law on the Runway, as it is a fairly new practice, but we thought it could be interesting to explore TV and movie product placements. Although not as widely mentioned in the news as influencer marketing, product placements in television and film has been around for decades now and are still subject to some guidelines. Here is a quick summary of what you should consider when drafting a product placement agreement or considering funding your television or film work through sponsorships.

Please use this as general information, not as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding product placements or would like to get an agreement drafted, please consult an attorney.

The basics

Some elements are absolutely essential to your product placement agreement. At the very least, such a contract should mention the products that will be featured, the number of products, and the price that will be paid to get a spot in your work. You should also determine clear payment terms as well as details regarding the delivery (when, how, by whom, etc). As for the feature itself, the agreement should include the duration of the feature, whether or not there will be close-ups, and any other details regarding the appearance of the products. Finally, you should determine how you will be crediting the company who is paying for product placement at the end of your movie or TV episode (and the visual appearance of those credits) and whether or not you can feature products from competitors in the same work.

Prepare for all scenarios

Because many things can happen between the moment you shoot a scene and the final editing of said scene, it is important to plan for all possible scenarios. For instance, what if the product a company pays to include in your work does not make the final cut? In the case of a television series, using the product in another episode is always an option, but what about a movie? Including clauses regarding possible refunds or the use of the product in another work should therefore be considered.

Network specifics

Television networks usually have sets of rules and standards you work needs to abide by if you want them to broadcast your show. If your work is going to air on television, you should make sure the products that get featured in your episodes and how they appear comply with the network’s practices (especially if the companies that are paying for product placement are in the cigarette or alcohol industry, for instance).

Federal Communication Commission

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the federal agency which regulates interstate communications by radio, wire, television, cable, and satellite, has sponsorship identification requirements. Generally speaking, “when money or other consideration for the airing of program material has been received by or promised to a station, its employees or others, the station must broadcast full disclosure of that fact at the time of the airing of the material, and identify who provided or promised to provide the consideration.” This means that the final credits should include anyone who has paid to be featured in your TV or movie work.

As with all Law on the Runway posts, please use this as general information, not as legal advice. If you have any questions, you may email hello@lawontheruway.com