Monday, September 14, 2009

Product Placement then.

I don't really like adverts. Okay, I like some, like that Transforming dancing car one for Ford, or that drumming gorilla one for Nestlé, or that one where the man puts on some classical music and runs through a wall then up a tree into space, which was for washing powder, or shampoo, or walls, or trees, or perhaps space, I dunno.

Anyway, the point is, adverts stay outside of the programme itself. They're a whore's bargain that allows television that isn't funded by a license fee, or a cable subscription, to exist, but at least the viewer knows where they are, and they can usually tell the difference between the adverts and the shows themselves.

But that line is soon going to be crossed, and I do not think this will be a good thing in any way.

From this article on the BBC news website:

"Product placement is to be allowed on British TV shows, in a move expected to be announced next week. Independent broadcasters will be allowed to take payments for displaying commercial products during shows.

The change is intended to bring in extra funds for commercial broadcasters. Experts believe it could raise up to £100m a year. There are currently strict rules against product placement and this ban would remain in place on BBC shows.

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw is expected to announce a three-month consultation on the changes in a speech to the Royal Television Society next week. An ITV spokesman welcomed the move, which he described as "reforming UK prohibition".

"You have to trust the consumer. If it's overdone or tasteless, viewers will switch off." (Peter Bazalgette, Big Brother creator).

He said: "If the government does decide to permit product placement, it will be warmly welcomed by the commercial broadcasting industry and advertisers alike."

But not, note, by writers, directors, producers, or viewers.

My stance on this is very much in line with David Lynch. He's being asked about product placement in Hollywood, in his capacity as a film-maker rather than a television producer, but he has experience of both, so I think we can take a few seconds to listen to his views. Video not entirely SFW.

Okay, here's a more detailed look at why loosening the restrictions on product placement is a really bad idea, for show creators and audiences alike:

1. It makes for worse television. If you think product placement means advertisers and PR firms come crawling pathetically to the programme-makers, begging to have a scene where the main characters all have breakfast include a jar of their savoury yeast product appear with the label at least half-facing the camera, think again.

These people see their brands as characters in themselves. They want their products to be mentioned as having specific virtues, and as being objects of wild aspiration. Which means scenes like The Cheerleader One in Heroes becoming hugely, yet somehow unconvincingly enthusiastic about her dad giving her what is, to all intents and purposes, a rather dull saloon car (although one curiously out of the price bracket those characters could afford), which she, of course, mentions by name. While jumping up and down excitedly. And she can regenerate from nuclear explosions, so we are supposed to take it this is a very exciting car indeed. Which it isn't.

Meanwhile, the two Japanese blokes get equally excited about being able to rent another car of the same make for their journey - and of course, we know (or should guess) that during that journey nothing bad is going to happen to them in said car, like a breakdown, or a crash, or anything that might reflect even slightly badly on the manufacturers, so there goes any narrative tension for that part of the story.

And as a writer, it's bad enough having to run storylines and dialogue past script editors, producers, lawyers, broadcast company (or network) executives and legal departments. But now we have to run them past PR departments and advertisers? Bleurgh.

2. The people who are claiming product placement is a good thing do not have the interests of the viewer, or even good television, at heart. Let's look at that last quote from the BBC article again:

"You have to trust the consumer. If it's overdone or tasteless, viewers will switch off."(Peter Bazalgette, Big Brother creator)

Note how this has expertly reframed the topic as a matter of trust in the consumer, rather than in the programme-makers. And of course, note also the implicit irony in the qualifications of the person making the quote.

Because people did finally abandon Big Brother, on exactly the grounds of it being overdone, and tasteless, and greedy, and repellent, and exploiting the mentally ill, and eventually just because it was dull television, but it took a while for it to happen, and in the meantime, most of the people involved made quite a lot of money. And a few of the people involved made astonishing amounts of money, and oh look, these are exactly the people who are defending loosening the restrictions on product placement.

3. Product placement kills the trust between the programme-makers and the audience. Now, champions of product placement will claim any detractors as wanting their programmes to show some Neverland, where no brands or recognizeable products exist, which is, like most things that come out of these peoples' mouths, a lie, and I shall prove it thusly:

A while ago I wrote this scene for Green Wing involving mini Mars Bars (not like that):

I didn't write this scene because I was paid by Mars, I wrote it because a friend of mine at the time always had in his house a bag of mini Mars Bars, and would reward himself with one when he managed to snatch a tiny, pathetic, but at least tangible victory in an otherwise quite bad time of his life, which seemed to fit with the sort of emotional turmoil the main characters in Green Wing were going through. But with speedy-up camera bits.

So I included a brand name not because Channel 4 or Talkback would get extra money from chocolate manufacturers to make the show, but because that scene was based on truth - a real physical truth (my friend and both really liked mini Mars Bars) and an emotional truth - that in times of stress, you have to take comfort where you can, even if it's in a knowingly crap, but self-aware sort of way. And, you know, I do quite like mini Mars Bars (please don't send me any though, people from Mars the company not the planet, because they are essentially quite bad for you, and I'm trying to lose weight).

To return to the central point, it's almost as though, if people made products that were good, and people formed an emotional attachment to them, ascribing them certain virtues and aspirational qualities, those brands would be written into shows without advertisers even having to pay for them. Imagine that.

In fact, BBC shows quite often show recognizable brands, in the form of cars, whose manufacturers frequently supply vehicles to productions for free. Rank hypocrisy of the kind that cause people like Jas. Murdoch to go into a frothing libertarian coma? Well, it wouldn't be terribly reasonable to expect the BBC to develop their own range of un-branded vehicles, as I'm fairly sure that's not the sort of thing the license fee was invented for. So real cars have to be used. But in this case, because the programme-makers haven't taken any money from the car manufacturers, they are obliged to neither mention the brand name in as many lines of dialogue as possible, or are told they can't have scenes where the car breaks down, or is involved in a crash, or is slightly damaged in a way that would imply the vehicle is made of anything less that refined adamantium (the stuff Wolverine's bones are coated in), so I think that's an acceptable compromise.

And if you doubt the lengths manufacturers, or their PR companies will go to to protect their brands, consider the following quote from the wiki page:

"Emerson, makers of the InSinkErator brand in-sink garbage disposal sued NBC for the use of their clearly branded product during a scene where Claire's hand is badly mangled after she places it in a running garbage disposal (Genesis). Emerson claimed NBC misrepresented any risks or potential injuries posed by the InSinkErator on the show, while portraying the brand "in an unsavory light, irreparably tarnishing the product." The company settled with NBC out of court on Feb 23, 2007."

These people take the representation of their products on television, and in film, very very seriously.

4. It makes it even harder to make shows that don't take place in the present. Battlestar Galactica got by without product placement, unless you count the manufacturers of toasters. Or the makers of 'Frak', if it exists. But you can bet no possibility of product placement made the show even harder to get off the ground in the first place. And product placement is sneaking in even here, the recent Star Trek film having a couple of spectacularly clumsy mentions of mobile phone brands and weak American lagers that really didn't do an otherwise excellent bit of smart entertainment any favours.

5. We've already seen how it poisons other cultural forms. Product placement acolytes will argue that films already contain plenty of 'brand exposure'. In fact, Bazalgette goes on to say:

"And it's rife in British television anyway. There's product placement in movies that go on television and in imported American TV shows and dramas."

Yes, American shows, and big noisy, rubbish Hollywood films, often involving Will Smith, for some reason, often do have lots of product placement. And sometimes, living in Cornwall, I drive past a muck spreader. That doesn't mean that having been exposed to muck spreading, I then desire to roll around in freshly-sprayed fields, shouting 'spray me big boy, I want every pore covered! WOOOO-arglesplurgh*coff*". Not since they started to crack down on that sort of thing. So I don't think that stands up as an argument, frankly.

6. Finally (hurrah!) where is this extra £100m a year even going to come from? The problem commercial television is having is a lack of funds from advertising - the same companies aren't going to suddenly find millions of extra pounds they didn't have lying around to use for... advertising their products on television. So I'm confused about that.

So taking all things into consideration, in this thing, as in so many others, I'm with David Lynch.


Unknown said...

To be honest I thought this was already happening on British TV. I watched an episode of Taggart for the first time in years recently and was horrified by a scene in which two male Glasgow police officers were drinking in a Glasgow bar. Now what would you reckon male Glaswegian police officers would drink while off duty? A pint of bitter, perhaps? A shot or two of whisky? But no, these police officers were drinking Smirnoff Ice. Labels conspicuous, and at one stage they clinked the bottles together and all but smacked their lips with the pleasure of it.
This stuck in my memory because it was so unlikely and so so wrong for the whole ethos of Taggart. I haven't watched an episode since, and am unlikely to again. So yeah, I'm with you.
But I was thinking about this last night after I finished Green Wing. Is television being made for anyone but a guaranteed large demographic anymore? Why is it we haven't had anything as good as Green Wing since 2006? It's not as if all the writers drove off a Cornish cliff in an ambulance is it? Is it just too expensive to take any risks with TV anymore?

Tim F said...

Actually, Mars the company does have its corporate headquarters on Mars the planet. But since 1993, manufacturing has been outsourced to Neptune because labour costs are lower there.

(I was going to put "Uranus" instead of "Neptune" then, but realised just in time that that would sound like, y'know, "your anus", hur hur, but I just picked a random planet that was a bit further away than Mars, honest.)

Unknown said...

I agree that whilst product placement will somwhat make long running shows look a bit tacky, like the taggart commment previously, it can also be done without disrupting the overall flow of the show.

I'm thinking specifically of "Chuck" as US show that really only got it's season 3 pick up by NBC thorugh a major Subway sponsorship deal.

Personally, I love the show and am really grateful for the blatant brand prostitution on show. But the show if formatted in such a way that it really doesn't matter or detract from the enjoyment.

On the other hand if Coronation Street or long running drama series became an extra long advert for every brand on show there, then TV as we know it is fucked. Big Time.

JonnyB said...

I treasure the moment when the cinema erupted in laughter as Daniel Craig got into his Ford Whatsit near the start of 'Casino Royale' and the camera lingered on the close up of the logo as it sped dynamically through the car-ad-type windy roads.

That was blatant and pathetic. But it was also done by one of the biggest, most accomplished marketing departments in the world, in a film that the makers knew would be scrutinised absolutely frame by frame by everybody who wanted to see whether the new Bonds were going to be any good. But nobody cared - it (presumably) worked financially, so nobody cared that it came across as risible - to an English audience anyway.

Niles Crane riding around on a Segway for no discernable plot reason was the final jump the shark moment for me in that show.

Matt said...

Funny you should mention Coronation Street there. A few months back there was an episode where it was someone's birthday and they were given a load of penguin biscuits, which were named as penguin biscuits in the show, and the characters sat around the pub eating them.
I seem to remember at least one mention of red bull around that time too.
I stopped watching it shortly after but that was more because of increasingly rubbish storylines than anything.

emordino said...

First thing I thought of when I read "You have to trust the consumer" was David Simon's "Fuck the average viewer". I know who I'm behind.

Kevin said...

It is grating, isn't it. Certain episodes in the last few seasons of 24 have been completely ruined for me after coming across like nothing more than extended commercials for Cisco.

Dan said...

I agree with a lot that's been said. I'd prefer no product placement in TV. However, I must say that it doesn't seem to work very well on me. I rarely notice it. Even the Heroes and 24 examples mostly passed me by, and I'm not stupid enough to WANT a car just because Hayden Panettiere got excited over one.

Also, the flipside is that some great shows are rescued from cancellation because of product tie-ins. A great example is Chuck, which essentially got a third season because Subway are going to prominently feature in the show now. And is that SO bad? I'd rather that than have NO Chuck.

James Henry said...

Bureasuista: I can have a go at answering that question, but it'll be a whole different blog post - will have a crack at it though.

Tim: I still can't believe Uranus is called 'Uranus'. Perhaps there is a time and place for focus groups after all. Or even just sort of asking around the canteen at lunch time.

SIr Billabong/Dan: I know where you're coming from, and I guess Chuck is a light enough show that it doesn't detract from the show too much. But I do actually find the blatant placements quite jarring, and it has contributed to me not watching it as much as I otherwise would.

JonnyB: the absurdly crass bit with the watch in Casino Royale was enough to make me not bother with the follow-up film. Well, that and the adverts. Although the books were always pretty crass and stuffed with brand names, as I recall, so it's sort of consistent. But then the Bond books are pretty unpleasant, so getting closer to the roots of the series just makes me want to watch the films less.

Matt: Yeah, I don't object to real products being on telly, but to the increasingly crass way mentions of them get stuck in the dialogue. Whereas I'm quite happy to use product names in my dialogue of my own volition, being told to, for example, crowbar two mentions in before the first advert break, is not what I became a writer for.

Emordino: I'd go further and say there isn't an average viewer. That concept exists only in the heads of commissioners and producers. And statistically, at least half the audience I'm writing for is going to be brighter than me, so they deserve not to be patronised, at least.

Kevin: Ha, I gave up on 24 around the time of the mountain lion attack. I always assumed it was sponsored by the Republican party, to be honest.

Dan (again): I think it's more about a constant dripfeed of promotion of certain products having certain qualities, so product placement doesn't take place in isolation - it's part of an extended campaign for a product, that will also appear in magazine adverts, radio and telly ads and so on. But at least the viewer knows those are ads.

I can certainly see why producers make that bargain, to get another series out there, and keep lots of people (including writers) in work. I'm just not sure the bargain is, long term, worth making.

JonnyB said...

Wasn't going to comment again, but just had a delicious refreshing Pepsi and it's energised me enough to say more.

On Dan's point: "I'm not stupid enough to WANT a car just because Hayden Panettiere got excited over one." - I'm also not stupid enough to want a bar of chocolate just because a monkey did some drumming. But actually, we all are.

Boz said...

I completely agree. But what is to be done??

There are notable exceptions. Like when Liz Lemon bangs on about how great a mobile phone is an then breaks the fourth wall to ask "Can we have our money now?!".

PK said...

Bravo. Excellent post, and an important one.

The low point for me came a few years ago when I went to see Iris in the flicks. Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent were doing their acting thingie as Irish Murdoch and her husband. So rapt in their work were they that they didn't even notice they lived in a complete tip. And what was that on the ground, that dented, smushed thingie that the camera lingered on for just a split second? Something that was just enough to break the illusion that you were watching something other than real life? Why, it was a Coke can.
I know it seems like a small thing, but it ruined the movie for me. (Well, that and the bog standard script)

James Henry said...

Boz: the problem with the 'give us our money now' moments is that each show can only get away with it a limited bumber of times.

And re. 'What can be done?' Well, production companies need to start making cheaper, more imaginative TV, and that means going back to the 'two people talking in a theatre-style set' then so be it. Easy to say, I know, but it can be done. And there's still a LOT of money swilling around television - people just have to start spending it more cleverly.

And I don't have a problem with companies accepting free products to use in shows, just feel a line has to be drawn at them accepting money for them.

PK: Yes, I don't think these companies understand that sort of thing annoys surely as many people as are likely to buy those products. Or perhaps they don't care.

tentonipete said...

the problem the tv peoples have got is that viewers are just taping their shows and whizzing through the adverts. if they can't force their stuff into our eyeballs in the advert breaks then they'll want to do it during the bits we can't fast forward.

James Henry said...

That is, in a nutshell, the problem, and it's far bigger than anything product placement alone can solve. I do wonder if we'll see a move towards more subscription based channels like HBO. Which from my point of view, as a writer and as a viewer, would be aces.

anna said...

I was just going to make a very similar point to tentoni pete, and some others.

While I clearly won't argue that it's a horrible, unhealthy, grubby little thing from a writer's point of view, I think as a viewer, as long as it doesn't go TOO far, it is a workable solution*.

And I think I wouldn't have said that before a year of watching TV in America and realising I can't stand my watching of a narrative broken up by huge strings of loud, interminable adverts. My concentration can't take it - it makes for far less connection - intellectual or emotional - with the story than if I can, in any way, watch it straight through.

Increasingly, I watch television either on streaming sites like Hulu, or using my clever recordy machine to zip through every hint of an advert.

And I realise that's untenable. And I know that if the majority of people are going to be watching this way in a few years, there needs to be some kind of revenue to make the programmes if I, as a viewer, am going to get them for free and uninterrupted at the other end. And I'm selfish, and that's what I want: free, and uninterrupted.

And that's why, though I know there's a lot of prouct placement going on in these shows, I can generally fade it out. Because even though I hate that it's there, it's allowing me to watch in a solid block, and get the connection with the characters and plot that I want - and also I don't care for clumsy manipulation, and can filter it away.

And this is not saying that you're wrong, at all. You're right in everything you say. But as a viewer, and from a purely viewer's pov, I realise all the icky things about it - but do prefer it to getting my concentration ripped apart every six minutes for a four minute break.

I'm another huge fan of Chuck, btw. I'm not sure if that skews us.

[*Of course, the problem with this argument is that it WILL go too far. When everyone starts glossing over the "subtle" references, they'll start pumping things full of increasingly unsubtle ones, and then the whole world of television goes to hell in a handbag and you were right all along.]

Anonymous said...

I think everyone is missing the point here. He was so annoyed at not finding any sex-manure that he KILLED A COW?

James Henry said...

Hi Anna - yeah, I'm taking quite a hard line on the subject, both as a writer and a viewer, but the problem I have with product placement is that the commercial pressures to go too far are so powerful, they almost always win. So a line in the sand needs to be drawn as early as possible.

I barely even watch live television any more - getting so used to box sets of Battlestar Galactica, for example, than when the chance to watch the last series on Sky for free came along, the ads were so absurdly jarring, I just gave up and waited for the final box set came along.

It's also looking increasingly likely that even if any extra money does come in as a result of this, which is debatable anyway, that money simply gets taken out of production budgets and goes to the shareholders, so the programme-makers themselves are even worse off. Which is a fun thought.

James Henry said...

Anonymous: I think he was going straight to source.

Dan said...

I also think it's worth mentioning that Coronation Street will be improved ten-fold if characters can order "a pint of Carling" at the Rovers, instead of just "a pint".

Seriously, having characters mention products by name might actually HELP you buy into the fiction at times, no?

Anonymous said...

Is there an arguement that art happens in the face of all this stuff - did all the Shakespeare type bods not work under a huge amount of commercial pressure? They were forced to please the majority of the audience and couldn't afford to appeal to a small group. Patrons were needing flattery in the work, etc

For instance as an artiste, you could have magically turned your mini-mars bars into twixes had they been the sposors. Or maybe if you hadn't had a friend with the Mars Bar trick (if people are weirdly just browsing the comments, they will now be flying back to the article), you may have been forced to conjure it out of thin air by a Mars executive.

Sure it will run out of control at some point -all this stuff is rocking boats. Then they'll be forced to back down as people watch subscription channels.

Luckily we have Auntie Beeb who can cheerfully turn out a good deal of rubbish with little commercial pressure in order to redress the balance.

James Henry said...

DAN: re. the Coronation St example, honestly, I don't think so. People just ordering a pint is one thing, but when it starts getting specific, that's when Carling's brand managers start wanting the more 'aspirational' (spit) characters drinking their beer - remember how that car bought by the Cheerleader's dad in Heroes was actually way out of the price bracket of the characters. I think a pint is acceptable shorthand, and anything else will detract from the story. It sounds picky, but I genuinely think this is true - remember how few words of dialogue you often have as a writer, and how precious they consequently become.

But yeah, sometimes specific products do make sense in the context of the show - hence the 'mini mars bars' reference. There's something about the patheticness of the 'mini' in the name that, I think, makes the scene work. 'A tiny bar of chocolate' in that case, isn't the same.

MORAY: "For instance as an artiste, you could have magically turned your mini-mars bars into twixes had they been the sposors"

Except I wouldn't. Because 'Twix' just doesn't work in context. And if Advertising executives start dictating dialogue to me, I may well have to think about getting a new job. Not that it'll make much difference to anyone but myself, but at least I'll be able to sleep at night.

Of course, you're right, all art happens in the face of various commercial pressures. But sometimes you have to decide where to say 'no more'.

Dan said...

@James. Yeah, after some further thought, I see your point. Would writers be able to have a character mention a brand, without that brand giving permission beforehand?

If so, I could envisage problems if certain character "types" order certain beverages, and the association is that, say, Ken Barlow-types drink Fosters... but "real" men drink Stella Artois. Etc.

Anonymous said...

There's the checks and balances - if decent writers won't play ball, they'll discover pretty quickly that bad writers don't sell their products.

Also thinking about another point you made - where is this money going to magically appear from? Presumably they're not hoarding money, they're just strapped for cash which means this solution only has an affect when things are easier and advertisers have more money. In which case things could have been left as they are and the advertisers would have started pumping money back into the add breaks then anyway.

For some reason I've just gone out and bought a crate of Pepsi. How odd...

rue said...

Brilliant post, couldn't agree more. I particularly loved that you felt the need to explain adamantium (how many people who read this blog don't know that!?) and also the muck-spreader defence against Bazalgette's faulty logic: beautifully put.

My one qualm is that no-one has mentioned this scene from Wayne's World yet:

America sold its soul to the advertising execs years ago, so I suppose it's no surprise Mike Myers was sending it up (whilst presumably making a bucketload of money out of it) seventeen years ago...

Imo said...

I loved the mini mars bar sketch in GW, however the Hulahoops have a lot to answer for!

Reading your blog reminded of a sketch I saw years ago, can't even remember who was in it, but it was a 1950's kitchen scene bumbling along quite nicely and then the characters literally stopped for the camera to pan in on a box of soap suds, or some such item - it was very funny..... as a sketch!

Hannah said...

Oh goodness yes, prominent advertisements in any visual media drive me absolutely insane. (Not as insane as they do on the radio though. It glares far more when you can't be distracted by other pretty colours in the scene.) I watched Casino Royale for the first time a few weeks ago and was completely distracted by what was happening when Bond appeared to feel the need to remind me exactly which expensive brand his watch was.

It's annoying enough that I have to have my viewing pleasure interrupted by adverts every ten/fifteen minutes on the commercial channels - please broadcasters don't draw me out of the world I'm enjoying to do it there to. It's like annoying adverts: the more I see it the less I want to buy it.

(And that's always been one of my favourite of the adorable Green Wing scenes - thank you and bravo for writing it!)

Oli said...

On the cars: I believe Cornation Street did once have to apologise to BMW after showing the car being hotwired in a way which was not actually possible. Funny, but y'know, fair enough.

My personal favourite product placement was in Blade Trinity, where Ryan Reynolds explains that Jessica Biel always likes to make iTunes play lists to listen to on her iPod when killing vampires. Because, y'know, if you were in a life or death situation, you'd want not to be able to hear.

janine said...

Your mini mars scene reminded me of a recent episode of 30 Rock when Jack Donaghy raved about McFlurrys and the world went mad assuming product placement. Tina Fey - who's often brilliantly satirical about commercialism in her shows - had to issue a statement.
“It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the references to McDonald’s in last night’s episode of 30 Rock were in no way product placement. (Nor were they an attempt at product placement that fell through.) We received no money from the McDonald’s Corporation. We were actually a little worried they might sue us. That’s just the kind of revenue-generating masterminds we are."

And that's why Bazalgette is wrong. The problem with product placement - or any covert commercialism - is that it renders genuine endorsement, enthusiasm or critical opinion instantly meaningless.

James Henry said...

Interesting quote from La Fey, cheers - and yes, I'd be gutted if people assumed that scene was a nod to a sponsor or something, and it's the sort of thing I'd think twice about writing in the future if the restrictions were relaxed.

Anonymous said...

Random comment.
Please could you persuade Victoria Pile and the rest of the team to do a GW one off! It was the best TV ever. You rock.

Jackie said...

Fantastic article! The Children's Food Campaign is strongly against the proposals and we want to encourage everyone to take part in the consultation. The simplest way to do this is to go to our website,- you can down load the consultation doc and post a response. You can either use a pre written letter we have prepared or write your own.

We believe that we can stand up to Ben Bradshaw over this if we work together. Editorial integrity and the health of our children is more important that the few bucks the industry stand to gain

James Henry said...

Interesting, thanks, will have a look at this.

LaLa said...

You've hit the nail on the head with the last point.

I used to work in online classified sales and no one has any more money than they used to, they just diverted the money from other streams (in our case, they diverted it away from print).

By the time I left they were then splitting that same pot of money up again, investing in online social media strategies to reach the same people they were always trying to reach.


PK said...

Stunning logic from Bazalgette. Stunning. "It's rife in British television anyway." So there.

You can't argue with "anyway", we all learned that fact, oooh, back when we were 5.

"There's like nuclear bombs everywhere ANYWAY."

So there everybody! Stop yer whining. It'll all happen "anyway" in a great big tide of Bazalgettian vested interestedness.

(ooh, it makes me mad)

James Henry said...

I love Endemol's contribution to the consultation (available here: ) - where they argue that although although PP could contribute as low as 25 million, they argue it'll be much higher than that because.... er, because it suits their argument.