Are the BBFC offering brands an interesting opportunity with censorship?

Some of you, in the UK at least, may have heard the news that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is going to take a long hard look at some Miley Cyrus videos and maybe think about introducing age classifications for music videos. Beware, the Daily Mail love this idea which normally means it is some reactionary rubbish that we should all ignore. However, I think brands should take a good look at this and see how they can become involved.

The impact of such classifications would probably be negligible on the consumption of music videos as the majority are now watched on YouTube which will not be required to take any action as the BBFC has no jurisdiction over online channels. However, the impact for brands will be more significant. Brands are increasingly involved in promotional videos through music partnerships and product placement with their gratuitous appearance often requiring a major contribution to the production costs. Therefore brands will need to start paying more attention to the content of such videos as regardless of how they are consumed they will come with an official age classification. Brands may well have to exercise greater editorial control over their music partners’ videos to ensure that they do not contain images or references that would be considered inappropriate for their consumers and this could in turn lead to “beige-ification” of music videos.

Or maybe not. You see brands can now cast themselves as guardians of their consumers minds or protectors of their music partners’ creativity. They can extend their role as curators and whoever they decide to side with they will be able to enhance their relationship with their consumers. The key to all of this is in the planning. Brands will need to ensure that they choose the right artists for their values and audience, they build true partnerships and if all else fails their contracting will allow them to walk away without causing a backlash.

So is the involvement of the BBFC welcome? I’m not sure but I do know that with the UK government trying to gain public support and the BBFC’s big survey showing consumers want more regulation of music videos it is probably a good idea for brands to think about it now rather than later. Censorship is back on the agenda in the week we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Mike Read’s ridiculous on-air censorship of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax on Radio 1, nothing changes.

The moral of the story is that if brands want to get involved in music they really need a music agency. This is after all the year of the music agency.

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