The Great British Bake Off gets cold feet over Smeg

Cookery show breaches BBC's own rules on product placement

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The Independent Online

The BBC has admitted a breach of its rules after prominently featuring Smeg appliances in The Great British Bake Off. While some viewers have been drooling over the tartes tatins and others fixated on contestant James Morton's tank tops, all too many are distracted by the prominence of the Smeg logo.

One viewer counted more than 37 shots of the word in an hour's episode. The logo is emblazoned across the front of the giant fridges in each of the work stations. The Italian appliance firm says it was approached by producers to provide its products free of charge, as it has done for the last two series, and was happy to lend them six brand new FAB30 fridges, in retro shades of pastel blue and green. A Smeg spokeswoman said they were delighted with the results, saying it had "improved awareness".

"It's great for us," she said. "Love Productions [the show's production company] approached us and we were delighted. Frankly, that model is a good seller anyway, but we have noticed people talking about them more on social media."

However, a BBC spokesman says that the fridges, which retail at more than £1,000 each, should not have been borrowed but paid for, according to its own guidelines. The corporation has asked Smeg to remove a notice from its website boasting about its association with The Great British Bake Off, which features judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, right

The BBC has also asked Love not to accept free fridges in the future. The BBC spokesman said: "Love... had a loan agreement with Smeg to supply the fridges. That agreement did not meet editorial guidelines, therefore it is being revised... and hire payments that meet the guidelines will be made. We are working with Love Productions to ensure that... a consistent approach is adopted in future."

It's not the first time the BBC has run into difficulties adhering to its own guidelines. Last year, the corporation was accused of favouring the outdoor-clothing manufacturer Berghaus, after it emerged it had bought 169 logo-ed jackets in a year. Previously, viewers have complained about news reporters apparently promoting jackets from North Face.

The "Letter of the Week" in this week's Radio Times, from Andrew Smith in Manchester, accuses the BBC of "blatant product promotion". He says: "The Smeg logo was so visible... that I counted it 37 times before giving up."