Leading television actors are using their positions to promote jewellery and other products on some of the nation’s most popular programmes.
The Independent has found two examples of Coronation Street stars who appeared in scenes wearing prominent jewellery that they had been given by companies. In both instances the stars exchanged tweets with the firms involved, discussing the appearance of their products on the soap.
The news comes after it was revealed that some stars of the long-running ITV1 show had fallen for a sting in which the Channel 4 Dispatches programme set up a bogus “gifting” stand in Manchester, where celebrities tweeted endorsements or were photographed carrying products in exchange for free designer goods.
Although there is no suggestion the actors are being paid to wear the jewellery during Coronation Street shoots, or that they keep the items, many in the industry believe it is a grey area where rules need to be tightened.
This newspaper has established that Coronation Street actress Paula Lane was given jewellery by the Leeds-based company Bling Rocks, at an event in Manchester last November. A tweet from Bling Rocks to the actress after the event says: “so great to meet you today… can’t wait to see you & Kylie #rockingthebling”.
Lane responds, “lovely to meet you aswell [sic]. Look out for the jewellery on screen around Feb, soon as I start filming some fresh eps [episodes] I’m wearing it!!’
On its website, Bling Rocks then included screen grabs of a Coronation Street episode which aired in January this year where the actress who plays Kylie Platt, can clearly be seen wearing a bracelet and earrings provided by the company.
Another actress, Lisa George can be seen in one episode wearing a custom-made necklace which spells out the name ‘BETH’, with tiles from the board game Bananagram. PR company LS Media Ltd, which represents the game, later included a picture of George wearing the necklace on the soap on its Facebook page, above the caption: “Coronation Street’s Beth has a novel use for her Bananagrams tiles... can you spot them?”
George, who has now deleted her Twitter account, also tweeted Bananagrams UK at her excitement at wearing the necklace.
ITV said the gifts were aimed at the characters, rather than the actresses, and said that gifting was widespread throughout the industry.
A spokeswoman for ITV, said: “Props come from a number of sources and are not part of product placement. The use of props is carefully reviewed to ensure they are editorially justified. ITV strongly refutes any suggestion that the actors or ITV have acted in an improper manner or against the regulations which we strictly adhere to.”
Product placement was banned on British television programmes until February 2011, when media regulator Ofcom issued new rules allowing their use in certain circumstances. The rules state that a product placement logo must appear for a minimum of three seconds on shows which feature product placements. The rules were relaxed for films, TV shows and sports programmes in 2011 but children’s shows, news programmes and religious programmes were exempt.
A spokeswoman for communications regulator Ofcom, said: “Ofcom’s rules are clear that if a broadcaster has been paid to show a product they must let viewers know. In addition, products in programmes must not be given undue prominence. A broadcaster would be in breach of the Broadcasting Code if they allowed any product or trade mark to be featured without editorial justification. It is the broadcaster’s responsibility to decide whether an actor or host is allowed to wear specific clothes or personal items during a show.”
Coronation Street also sparked controversy last month when it was revealed one of the show’s producers played his son’s songs during a scene in the Rover’s Return pub. Terry Dyddgen-Jones managed to get 27-year-old son Sion Russell Jones’ song on the pub jukebox during a scene.
Last year Channel 4 show Sunday Brunch saw viewers complain when presenters Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer wore T-shirts with the British Military Fitness organisation’s logo ‘BMT’ during an interview with the fitness organisation. Afterwards the presenters directed viewers to a page about the company on the Channel 4 website – for which they were accused of advertising the company.