Product placement gone McMad? But what about the rest of TV?

2013-09-27_0141After TEN announced a partnership between McDonald’s and Wake Up yesterday it’s been on the receiving end of a hostile reaction.

As part of the deal, McDonald’s will set up “the smallest McDonald’s outlet in the country,” on the Wake Up set, manned by two crew members serving the Wake Up team each morning.

It sounds very similar to the McCafe that Sunrise started some years ago, also under the watch of producer Adam Boland.

Sunrise now partners with Michel’s Patisserie while Today has The Coffee Club.

But the M word is a red rag to a McBull and experts are weighing in.

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton told Fairfax Media, ”It becomes part of the furniture, it normalises this whole idea that it’s perfectly normal to have McDonald’s for breakfast – and that is not normal, nor is it desirable.”

I’d concur that having Maccas on a regular basis for breakfast is a worry. Having one here and there strikes me as manageable within the context of a broader diet (but hey, I’m no nutritionist, nor do I pretend to be).

While I’m not especially keen on product placement big or small, last I checked McDonald’s was a legitimate company selling a legal product.

McDonald’s has also been known to fund primetime docos (McDonald’s Gets Grilled) and the brief revival of It’s a Knockout.

But if we’re going to hate on product placement (and I have no argument with that) we really should be consistent.

What about Woolworths in Recipe to Riches and Coles in MasterChef? What about the Mitre 10 shop that resided on the set of The Block? How is that any different to a McDonald’s mini-outlet?

The Biggest Loser was plugging Krill Oil from Nature’s Way. Big Brother is rife with KFC cross-promos and The Voice has had Ford and Vodafone.

How many sporting events have brand names in their very title? Branded entertainment hasn’t just infiltrated our weekend afternoon content -we now have entire channels for the stuff.

And advertorials are the “necessary evil” of morning television we are told -at least they are separated from editorial content. But product placement is woven under your nose so that you barely notice it. Our networks are even using whiz-bang technology to insert products and marketing into our dramas after they have been filmed.

In a recent TV Tonight survey of over 1200 readers, most people agreed that while they were dead against gambling advertising and had some concerns over alcohol advertising, there was no such mood towards junk food advertising.

Having Maccas on the set of Wake Up won’t cause the sky to fall in Chicken Little style, but it may make some people tune out. ABC News Breakfast readily awaits them, sans advertising.

Meanwhile the Commercial Television Industry Code Of Practice stipulates that broadcasters must ”adequately bring the existence of any such commercial arrangement to the attention of viewers in a way that is readily understandable to a reasonable person”.


  1. Not exactly sending the right message to kiddies who are getting ready for school, but I don’t see how it’s much different from breakfast at michels or coffee club or any other cafe. And as long as its subtle advertising and not advocating or promoting then it’s not going to turn many people off.

  2. The product placement will only put me off if the hosts say: “that was a delicious McMuffin I had this morning” It is is subtle, then no dramas, but if it is in your face, I will not tune in!

  3. I think the primary reason it’s different is that a Cafe or a coffee shop is not necessarily bad for your health. They are also not usually selling food which is supposed to be eaten as a meal. They are selling coffee and snacks. It could serve almost anything good or bad. McDonald’s is primarily associated with food which is not healthy. They also specifically market to children. I haven’t seen Big Brother so I don’t know if the KFC sponsorship is integrated or not. I won’t be watching this and I didn’t watch It’s a knock out because it felt too much like I was watching an ad. I think there is a difference when it’s junk food.

  4. Completely agree over the hypocrisy of giving the McPlacement a harder time than, say, the Mitre Blockage. What I see is disdainful media (not TVTonight which maintains a more objective view) continuing to kick the Ten horse while it’s still down, not giving it a chance to prove itself and gain its own audience and potential success. Heaven forbid the possibility that Wake Up might actually turn out to be pretty good!

  5. This product placement has already worked. Got us all talking about a show that doesn’t exist yet, and will probably get a few of us to flick over for a look. Clever!

  6. Who does everyone think pays for their “free” TV?
    If you don’t want to pay for it yourself then surely you need to understand that the money has to come from somewhere.
    I can’t imagine making TV comes cheap

  7. Surely this isn’t really any worse than Maccas’ assault on other shows (ie X Factor which targets the same demographic). I don’t remember an uproar when Maccas sponsored MKR, and that was a clear campaign to remove the stigma from around their food by trying to convince people it’s real and all-natural.

    @tvf – there’s also a big cereal box that fills the back of some of their breakfast shots, but disappears when it goes to a different angle!

  8. Well I guess there will be no updates about the residents of Tecoma taking the fight to McDonald’s in any of there News bulletins then (or interview them via satellite like on the Project etc).

  9. The idea of any product placement is bad (I understand it’s somewhat necessary these days) but having a McDonalds on the set just comes across as very tacky and cheap. It’s enough to make me avoid watching.

  10. I would add that industry, any industry, codes of practice serve a single purpose… to get the outraged public off the industry’s back and avoid prosecutions.

    The suggestion that maccas for breakfast is acceptable is supported by the increasing obesity of our kids. Don’t let that stop the almighty advertising $ tho.

  11. In the last few weeks I’ve noticed more product placement on home and away.

    Example 1: Leah and vj in the kitchen with vj eating a pack of doritos and a nudie drink.

    Example 2: Kyle eating Braxton with a bottle of pauls milk right in the view of the camera.

    Not a fan of product placement and would be less likely to use these products when its so obviously placed there like that. These just stood in my mind because I’ve never found food products so obvious.

    Just another note on home and away. Not impressed when reading in the press this week about the London trip being about the braxtons. Does everything on home and away have to revolve around them. So frustrating. Not as good since sally left again. At least for the few months she was on it wasn’t Braxton centric.

  12. jezza the first original one

    @ Pertinax….you have nailed it…..Maccas are being sponsored by ch10 and have to broadcast their shows in all their restaurants. Ch10 then count all Maccas customers in their ratings…..and hey they are back on track with huge viewing figures……Brilliant!!!!

  13. If people are at home watching Wake Up while they eat breakfast, then they aren’t eating at Maccas. Unless the deal is reciprocal and channel Ten is running TVs in Maccas.

    I have eaten breakfast at Maccas once when I was hung-over and needed to, and there was no alternative. No amount of ads will change that. The toasted banana bread with butter and a cappuccino I had yesterday wasn’t much healthier, but tasted a whole lot better.

  14. Please can we cool the negative energy around Wake Up constantly – can’t we just for once realise that shows need sponsors. In this instance McDonalds is a sponsor. I’m sure with the experienced team behind them they will be avoiding anything over the top on set (ie talent eating product etc)

    Good luck to everyone in the McDonalds and TEN teams for a great partnership.

  15. While I deplore the overt product placement and hate the nasty crap that McDonalds serves – well, I struggle to see how a salty McMuffin or a bag o’ sad hash brown is any worse a breakfast food than a sugary cake or buttery pastry from Michel’s

  16. carolemorrissey

    Yeah, I remember when Sunrise had the McCafe, and The Coffee Club used to be a sponsor for them too. I remember one year when the Lindt shop across the road sent them some Easter eggs, but they weren’t their sponsor, Cadbury or some other chocolate brand was. It was a bit awkward for them. I’d prefer Lindt over Cadbury any day. Just because McDonalds is going to be in their studio, doesn’t mean they are necessarily going to eat it every day, they may just drink their coffee. It’s for guests and visitors too.

  17. jezza the first original one

    Can this be really true that Macca’s is Not normal everyday breakfast food?

    I am struggling to come to terms with that!!!

    The nutritionist need not worry as no one will be watching, so its impact will be minimal

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