Channel 5 to embrace product placement

Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell media empire has unveiled plans for greater use of product placement on Channel 5 and closer ties between the broadcaster and the company's stable of newspapers and magazines.

The business launched a new initiative, Northern & Shell Partnerships, which is designed to increase integration between the television channel and media brands including the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the company's roster of celebrity magazines, including OK! and New! The impending return to television of the former Channel 4 reality show Big Brother will give N&S a major opportunity to cross-promote those brands, N&S executives said.

Nick Bampton, N&S's commercial sales director, said he expected product placement to play a key role in a strategy of helping commercial clients promote themselves across all of N&S's media platforms.

"Product placement is like a really golden nugget and if it's used with other components such as spot advertising, sponsorship, features in the newspapers and magazines and online as well then the whole value of it is increased," he said. Mr Bampton said he expected to see product placement in Channel 5's lifestyle programmes – "in-house makeover shows, for example, there are lots of opportunities there" – and in Big Brother where he was looking at "a number of different partnerships".

N&S told media agencies yesterday that the combined audience of its various outlets was 39 million people a month and that it was the third largest media owner by revenue in the UK. With its ownership of television and print assets, Mr Desmond's company has opportunities that some of his media rivals do not enjoy. Mr Desmond bought Channel 5 in July last year for £103.4m and announced last month that he had already increased profits from £8.9m in 2009 to £30.3m.

"What we want to do is make our advertisers part of our editorial involvement. It already happens in OK! magazine where products are being used in the magazine," said Mr Bampton.