FremantleMedia has defended a decision to have its characters endorsing Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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.