Media Watch highlights product placement in Neighbours storylines

FremantleMedia has defended a decision to have its characters endorsing in recent storylines.

Media Watch has revealed a storyline in which Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) searches for a sibling led him to searching through the genealogy website.

KARL: They give you hints. See all these little green leaves, you click on one of those, it takes you to options to find other people you could be related to. They don’t show the name or the age or the location of anyone living. It’s just one huge puzzle waiting to be solved. -August 22

Across several episodes was mentioned by the characters as blatant product placement, accompanied by paid advertisements in commercial breaks.

KARL: I got a response to my message on Ancestry …

SUSAN: ‘… so that makes me your half-sister’, a sister! That’s better than we thought.

KARL: Yeah, I should have remembered the DNA between cousins and siblings can be very similar. -August 29

Media Watch noted some fans were not happy with the inclusion, venting on social media.

As a Drama series, ELEVEN and Neighbours are not required to declare any brand partnerships.

But FremantleMedia said in a statement, “Brand integration is only considered for Neighbours when there is an organic, editorially relevant fit for a brand within a storyline. The creative integrity of the program and the authenticity of the storyline are always our top priority.”

Normally product placement is confined to items prominent to viewers, but the inclusion of a brand in dialogue for fictional characters is rare. It’s not clear how the Australian Writers’ Guild feels about the move, nor the Media Arts & Entertainment Alliance with performers endorsing brands, and whether any extra income went to actors.

In 2011 Seven began using MirriAd technology to digitally embed products into completed dramas such as Winners & Losers.

Yesterday TEN announced Dr. Karl’s long-lost sibling, Jemima Davies-Smythe played by Magda Szubanski, would continue in a guest role on-air until the end of September.

You can see Neighbours video examples here.


  1. It’s rather reminiscent of ABC TV News a few years ago when Mark Scott and Kate Torney were in charge. The reporter BOF supers contained a prominent Twitter logo along with their Twitter address. That all stopped when the new team took over.

  2. It’s interesting that people complain about this sort of subtle advertising on TV when it has been going on in movies for years: Coca Cola, Sony, Apple computers & iPhones various car makers etc. It is not a new phenomenon.

    • Bones was so bad for that especially with cars, 5 minutes of 2 actors talking about the GPS in the car or the hands free reversing function of the latest model!

      • Everything’s lousy with it. But it only gets noticed when it’s so badly done it’s almost comical. Ones to watch for:

        – Marvel & DC movies/TV. Only in a comic-book fantasy land does the stand on the Surface stand work in bed or on your lap 🙄
        – Cop shows. The unbelievable thing used to be that a cop could pull straight up to the curb anywhere in a busy city. Now they let park-assist do its magic reverse-parking while we watch a GM or Ford logo on the steering wheel spin 😜
        – Political/spy dramas. With the sound down, that scene on the park bench looks like an ad with the guy showing off his new phone or tablet to some random passer-by. With the sound up, it becomes a whistleblower showing stolen documents, or a bad guy showing the hero a video of his daughter being held hostage… 🤣

  3. So taking Soap Operas back to their roots when they were so named because they were sponsored by Soap Manufacturers and featured product placements and endorsements for those products throughout the shows. I can get those stains out for you I use Lux Laundry detergent and it’s the best for stains like that, after a party: So many dishes to do, Oh don’t worry I use Palmolive and it’ll be done in a jiffy as it really cuts through grease and etc., etc.

    With the advent of the PVR and skip button it’s not surprising ads are going in shows again, it used to be a thing before especially in the US Talk Shows (and as I said soaps), of course Graham Kennedy famously made the adverts in his show funny.

  4. Well Nine News has ran stories in their evening bulletins talking about cheap Aldi produce compared to Woolies and Coles (and they got the prices wrong at Woolies and Coles), making Aldi look better. I cannot see how this wasn’t an ad, but Nine aren’t under any obligation to acknowledge.

  5. Watched this via Media Watch last night and laughed my head off. Definitely gone down hill
    Since I use to watch about a decade ago poor old Neighbours

  6. I don’t see the big issue. If it’s blatant product placement and its critical to Magda’s guest role then it makes sense. Why not make a bit of money out of it. Viewers forget they get the program for free. Its advertisers who make Neighbours possible. Better to have subtle ads than no show at all…

  7. Hello David
    A couple of weeks ago, you advised me that the Today show wasn’t obligated to inform us of their commercial partnership deals.
    Now you report that drama programs are likewise exempt, so that doesn’t really leave much (genre wise).
    It looks like rules surrounding product placement are really nothing more than lip service.

      • Sorry, re-reading my post it sounds like I’m having a go at you, but that’s not what I intended.
        It would seem a bit disingenuous to have to go searching a website to discover transparency on this. Perhaps these shows need to shill some internet providers to help with that.

          • Maybe, like many news sites, they could just put a “sponsored” watermark in the corner of the screen?
            Maybe we should ask Today Show’s Tech Guru – I’m sure he knows of some such technology available from Harvey Norman.

  8. Someone always has to have a whinge.. and of course its vis social media picked up by the ABC. Who cares its part of the storyline and its a good one, it makes it feel real.

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