Gary Ruskin of Commercial Alert writes: "The interweaving of advertising and programming has become so routine...[that] some programs are so packed with product placements that they are approaching the appearance of infomercials."
Well no shit Sherlock. It pains me to watch most television shows these days, and when I do, the product placement is obvious but not too bothersome (maybe I'm not watching the correct shows?). However, most folks don't seem to mind it at all. Is having a character down a Budweiser or play on a shiny new G5 bad? Not necessarily. But when it's so overt it's disgusting, i.e., Austin Powers movies, that's when I get upset. I get even more upset sitting through 20 minutes of pre-movie commercials at a theater.
But that's a different story. I'm digressing here, so back to the original point. Should gov't protect the people from false advertising? Yes. Absolutely. But can you effectively differentiate from Rachel on "Friends" pounding a perfectly placed Coors, with Chandler who (while writing a lengthy paleontology tome no doubt) saying "Wow, this new Apple/G5/Mac sure is fast--and look, no Blue Screen of Death. Hey Rach, you should buy one too?"
Lots of grey area, especially when you must prove the damage to be "substantial." The sheer volume of shows would quickly choke any gov't organization. I think tax dollars would fail miserably. Commercial Alert brings up an interesting point, and maybe something positive will come of it, but it's too little, too late and we don't need another gov't office. If people are duped into buying a Coke or Reebok shoes because of a TV show or movie, maybe they deserve it. And for the kiddies, parents need to take back control and lay the smack down when junior throws a fit. Teach them to think, compare, and buy what they need, not what they want or see someone else with it.