Dear FTC: Should 24 Disclose Writing Its Show Around Products?

Dear FTC. Instead of worrying about whether bloggers are disclosing all they should when writing about products, perhaps a little more attention should be focused on TV programs and product placement? This season’s 24 took things to a new level, where plot points were constructed around featuring a product. Is a tiny mention in credits at the end really disclosure enough?

I love 24. I’m sad to see it go. I’m used to exercising a huge degree of suspension of disbelief about some plot points, because I’ve enjoyed the show so much. But the plot points designed only to position products were one twist too far.

In one episode, Chloe and Arlo decide they need to work together secretly,  outside the CTU network but while within the CTU offices. “I know!,” Chloe says. “We’ll set up a mobile hotspot.” She pulls out a Sprint mobile modem, and they get working.

Um, all that modem is really designed to do is let one or more people get out on to the open web. So was she using that to go outside, then log back into CTU’s network, which they were trying to avoid in the first place?

It was a plot point solely because someone was told, “Write something in about Sprint hotspots.” It was awkward and stood out (and didn’t go unnoticed).

In the finale, Cole’s sitting in his car finishing up a phone conversation when a big truck pulls up alongside him. Ohh — something ominous? No, it was just designed so Cole had to backup his Hyundai using its rear TV camera in it to navigate away from the truck.

There was no reason for the truck to be there, other than to highlight that camera segment.

You want to show me ads during breaks in my TV shows? Fine. Want to have some products get camera time. I guess I’ll live with that. But writing the plots around products, in exchange for payment. That’s not on.