Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Country Sunshine" = Country Radio Four Decades In Front Of A "New" Trend

Forty years ago, country radio grappled with the issue of whether to play overt product plugs in songs (and we did, as long as the song was a hit).

Of course, it's nothing new for an established hit to be used in commercials when marketers found them to be perfect for their 30-second spot.

Next, came grey-area additions, like Fergie’s “Labels Or Love,” a track commissioned specifically for the Sex and the City movie.

Now, there’s Chris Brown’s “Forever,” which isn’t so much a Top 10 hit as it is a commercial for Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. that just happened to sneak its way onto the radio. And only now is Wrigley owning up to it.

"Reality TV should mean informing viewers about who is secretly pitching to them in the TV shows they are watching," said FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. "The true reality is that news and entertainment alike are practically being turned into undisclosed commercials. Many current practices fly in the face of viewers' legal right to know who is pitching to them."

From that same item: "...some may argue that the current FCC rules that require some disclosure of product placement tactics are weak; decisions are left to the "reasonable, good faith judgment" of the broadcaster."

I don't do legal advice, but it seems to me that attempts to regulate this not-so-new trend are on pretty shaky ground, but just to be safe, music directors, you'd be wise to listen extra closely to lyrics - for what might be between the lines.

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