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'Hollyoaks' product placement 'worth £12m'

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Channel 4 has reportedly identified up to £12 million worth of product placement opportunities for Hollyoaks under newly-relaxed UK regulations.

According to documents seen by Broadcast, the placement opportunities cover six areas, including fashion, health and beauty and coffee/retail expected to gross up to £2m each. Opportunities were offered to relevant companies last month and sealed bids are due to be submitted by June 10.

Channel 4's bidding process follows weeks of conversations with brands and media agencies about the best ways to integrate product placement in its flagship soap opera.

Product placement deals on British television have been made possible by changes to the law introduced by the government last year, and brought into force by Ofcom in February.

A 52-page 'Product Placement Prospectus' has been prepared by Channel 4 with input from Hollyoaks producer Lime Pictures.

The broadcaster hopes to have contracts signed by July 8 in order to enable Lime to introduce the products in line with Ofcom's rules and guidelines. It is expected that the first brands will appear on Hollyoaks by August or September.

Channel 4's product placement document reveals that the broadcaster wants to secure deals that also include off-screen licences and promotional rights, such as using Hollyoaks cast members for PR.

David Charlesworth, Channel 4 head of sponsorship, placement and funded content, said that the strategy is to demonstrate how product placement can drive sales.

However, he also warned that Channel 4 may not be able to secure its £12m target for Hollyoaks. Instead, the "ambition" is to take "circa £3m for PP in Hollyoaks for the first 12 months, one way or another".

Other expected product placement money spinners for Hollyoaks include technology and mobile at £750,000 to £2m, along with retail finance and film/music events at £500,000 to £900,000 each.

In March, Channel 4 agreed its first product placement deal involving retail chain New Look appearing on a new fashion show for the T4 strand.

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