Cherry: Pony Up for Scripted Product Placement

While Writers Guild of America West President Patric Verrone said recently that securing compensation for writers who pen shows that include product integration was not part of his agenda, Desperate Housewives executive producer Marc Cherry apparently disagrees.

Speaking at a Tuesday luncheon in Beverly Hills hosted by the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, Cherry said he wants his show to be compensated if he and his staff have to take the time to write a product into a scene.

“When they start coming to you and want to position the product in a perfect way, then sure, if I get some of the money I’ll do it,” he said.

Cherry said he was recently approached about integrating a car into a storyline, but he balked when he found out the show would not be compensated for the extra work.

“I’m all for product placement if I can get some of the money, but if it just all goes to the company then we’ll just put the car in the parking lot behind the characters,” he said.

Cherry did say he is not bothered by old-fashioned product placement, when the product is present in the scene but does not to be written in.

“If it’s just going to just be a Campbell’s Soup can in the back of the kitchen then I don’t care, we have to put some can back there anyway.”

The guilds took on the product integration issue with a “code of conduct” released on Nov. 14, and while Verrone said the organization is not happy that writers are being put in a position to have to write “advertising copy” within entertainment programming, he claimed securing compensation for writers is not his goal.

“That is not our primary concern,” he told B&C recently. “We have the issue of artistic integrity. If we make money on it that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t solve the bigger problem. We have to draw the line somewhere.”

The “Code of Conduct” comprises four points: the visual and aural disclosure of product integration deals at the beginning of each program, limiting integration within children’s programming, including writers in decision-making regarding integration, and extending product integration regulation to cable TV.