Nonprofit ad-watchdog group Commercial Alert said the line between product placement and infomercials has been virtually erased and it wants the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to do something about it.
In letters to both, the group lodged a formal complaint, calling for an investigation of the major networks for "failure to comply with sponsorship-identification requirements." It also wants those requirements strengthened, executive director Gary Ruskin wrote.
Commercial Alert wants TV networks and stations to have to "prominently" identify product placements as ads, and to do so both before the program and when they occur.
Their suggestion is putting the word "advertisement" on the screen while the product is appearing.
Among the numerous placements cited in the letter are Coke on American Idol: Search for a Superstar
and "product spokesman" placement, in which, the group said, "pharmaceutical companies are increasingly placing paid spokespersons on programs to increase drug sales."