**First written on Feb 04, I’ve brought this back for today, in the light of the formal announcement on product placement.
Let the obese rejoice. Andy Burnham may not be culture secretary any more, but he has come back to protect you. And no, he is not offering free entry to The Biggest Loser for people on the dole.
For those who have forgotten, the pin-slim Ben Bradshaw, wants to end the long-standing ban on product placement — famous brands appearing in television programmes. That amounts to a complete reversal of Andy B’s own policy. When he was at the ministry of fun, the trim Evertonian sniffily insisted on blocking product placement outright.
Now Burnham is merely health secretary. But he hasn’t given up, and word is that he has managed to ensure that booze and junk foods will still be banned from appearing inside Corrie and the X Factor.
It’s not a clear cut decision. The ban on booze makes some sense. Even the drinks lobby was unsure about product placement, because it could be used to get round the ancient rules that ads for drinks don’t promote social or sexual success (which is why fat comics promote beer).
Look at Mad Men, where you can find Smirnoff on screen (in the US product placement is legal). The guys from Madison Avenue drink like fish, gets loads of women and earn tons of money. It’s hard to watch an episode without fancying a cocktail and a shag yourself.
Banning junk food is different. Junk food is so hard to define. All sorts of rubbish products, like cereals, make spurious health claims, largely by adding vitamins. Meanwhile, some ‘we all think they are healthy’ products, like yoghurt have lots of fat.
It’s hard to believe a single kid will get less fat either (more sports lessons in schools might help there). Product placement was always going to be banned for children’s programmes. Meanwhile McDonalds can still buy 30 second adverts against shows like The X Factor that adults and, er, lots of kids watch.
Who cares though. Mr Burnham has got revenge.