We are thrilled to be part of a match made in butter heaven partnership between Land O’Lakes and The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, to introduce new LAND O LAKES® Butter with Olive Oil & Sea Salt. This week Land O’Lakes launched two videos featuring The Pioneer Woman showing us butter lovers and butter novices how to use the new product. (Video kudos go to website partner Colle + McVoy.)
Stay tuned for work Campbell Mithun produced with the The Food Network to create a full surround that will hit your televisions, internet browsers and laps (via The Food Network magazine) starting mid-August. In the meantime, be sure to watch (and try!) the Chicken Milanese recipe demonstrated by Ree. Yum!
During my days reviewing new creative concepts through the “legal lens,” I am often asked by account and creative staff why programs on network television are able “to get away with” things that advertisers cannot. They often feel that there is a double standard at work. When you view programming and advertising in continuous sequence on a network, it may not “seem right” that the standards for each are different, but there is an explanation.
Nothing gets on the air by accident (except for a certain wardrobe malfunction during a live broadcast, which of course changed how live programming is broadcast). Both programming and commercials are reviewed in advance of airing by the Standards and Practices divisions at each network (formerly known back in the day as “censors”). Programming provides entertainment, and the networks are subject to rules set forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The commercial networks don’t make money on programming per se; however their ratings determine how much they can charge advertisers for units (:15, :30 are typical). What is acceptable to show during programming depends on FCC rules, consumer group pressure, changing mores, etc., which is why we now have the rating symbols appearing onscreen. A viewer generally knows what to expect when they view a particular program, whereas a viewer has no control over what commercials may appear within that program.
Advertising exists for commercial purposes. It is persuasive in nature and falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), since it involves interstate commerce. Network guidelines for commercials are generally an amalgam of government dictates, industry practices, self-protection, taste concerns, and so on. The networks make money on commercials and have to make sure any claims are substantiated, among other things. They don’t want to be held liable for false advertising claims or any adverse effect they may have on the viewing public. (www.nadreview.org ) Advertising is directed at the consumer/viewer, and consumer perception drives a lot of the regulations.
Each network has slightly different standards, and sometimes an ad will be approved by some networks but not others. It all depends on how much the creative execution pushes the envelope of the networks' advertising standards. I recall long ago when working on Kimberly-Clark Depend®, the networks wouldn't even allow use of the word “incontinence” in television advertising. When we first did drug advertising, everything had to be pre-cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At the time you could either say the name of the drug (but not what it did) or you could say what the drug did (but not its name). Either way, you had to refer people to their physicians.
Standards have changed over the years, and there are many products and services being advertised now on network television that would not have “made it through the gate” years ago (ex: Huggies spot).
As I mentioned, viewers tend to know what they’re getting when viewing a program, but they cannot prepare for the commercials they might see during that program. I remember a few years ago a member of our account staff was quite upset and embarrassed because he and his pre-teen children had been watching the Super Bowl when an ad for an erectile dysfunction remedy suddenly appeared. He couldn’t understand why the networks would show such an ad when children might be watching.
Well, that brings up yet another interesting fact about network standards. There are different standards for different dayparts! The standards for child-directed ads which will air during children’s programming are very different—and much more strict—than those for adult-directed ads. Children are not the target demographic for Super Bowl advertising, but children are often watching television at times of the day not allocated to children’s programming. And, these days much if not most programming is also streamed via the internet.
So, back to the original question: are there different standards for programming vs. advertising? The short answer: yes.
-- Carolyn Carter, Paralegal and Manager of Legal Compliance