Coronation Street signs product placement deals with Co-op and Costa

Part of ITV’s new Weatherfield set, branding will be on bags, cups, posters and storefronts

Coronation Street viewers will soon see familiar chain-store brands on the soap after ITV announced partnerships with Costa Coffee and the Co-op.

The changes, part of a new, extended Weatherfield set, will come in this spring, with store fronts, posters, bags and cups being integrated into the show.

In ITV’s biggest product placement deal to date, the agreement allows both brands to use Coronation Street assets and extend the partnership off-air.

Mark Trinder, ITV’s sales director, said: “The expansion of the Coronation Street set has given us a great opportunity to feature branded shop facades as more of Weatherfield is opened up to viewers.

“Incorporating product placement on this scale is something we have wanted to do for some time and we’re delighted with this exciting opportunity.”

First broadcast in 1960, Coronation Street is the longest-running soap on British television. A long-standing ban on Product placement in commercial television was lifted in the UK in 2011, after years of lobbying from the industry.

The first peak-time example was subsequently seen on Coronation Street in the form of a Nationwide ATM installed inside the shop of the character Dev Alahan. Since then, ITV has brought together brands and programmes with deals across its schedule.

Shows carrying product placement must carry a “P” logo to indicate its use, and while it makes up a relatively small segment of the advertising market, it is growing.

Some programmes, such as Channel 4’s Eat the Week with Iceland, are conceived with advertisers involved from the early stages.

Viewers are not always pleased when they are aware of product placement and broadcasters are sometimes wary of affecting a show’s reputation with its use.

However, Gemma Butler, an associate director of marketing at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said the new ITV deals could make other programmes more comfortable with the approach.

“Though live TV still has a massive audience reach, viewing habits are changing as more people each year utilise catch-up services to view programmes. This leaves advertisers increasingly cut out of the equation as viewers find it easier to skip ad breaks,” she said.

Roy’s Rolls.
Roy’s Rolls. Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

“The fact that a British institution like Coronation Street has made the decision to feature brands within the show gives licence to other programmes who may have been wary of product placement to look again at its potential for advertising revenue.”

Fans of Coronation Street expressed concern about the impact chain stores could have on Weatherfield’s fictional independent businesses, including Dev’s corner shop, Roy’s Rolls and Frescho. “Bloody hell, is Costa the new sponsor for Corrie, every episode someone has a Costa cup in their hand, what’s wrong with Roy’s?” one viewer tweeted.

Another wrote: “There’s suddenly thousands of Corrie fans around the country that work for Co-op and Costa coffee that are putting in transfer requests ... I don’t work for either but I’d happily be considered for staff.”

Ofcom requires products shot on screen to be “editorially justified”, which makes it easier for dramas than reality TV shows to capitalise on the rule. There is also a list of goods and services that cannot be advertised, including tobacco and alcohol brands, and foods that are high in salt or sugar, such as McDonald’s.


Nadia Khomami

The GuardianTramp

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