Military support for BBC’s Top Gear came to 141 days in 5 years – surely it’s just good product placement?

The MoD has been criticised for using military personnel in the making of Top Gear - it's just good publicity!

The MoD has apparently been criticised for the 141 equivalent days it has given to BBC’s Top Gear programme in the past five years.

But, I can’t but think that this is extremely good product placement by our military. I am guessing but I suspect that the viewers are predominantly male and younger than average, which is surely the target audience for the services. It has hardly been to the detriment of the military the coverage they have received and, if anything, enhances the kudos of military service, and encourages recruitment.

Just the events that The Guardian lists tell you that this is great, low cost, advertising for the MoD;

  • Apache helicopter attempting missile lock on a Lotus Exige
  • Challenger Tank tries to catch Jeremy Clarkson in a Land Rover
  • Avoiding sniper fire in a Porsche and a Mercedes
  • Racing a Porsche Cayenne against a parachutist
  • Twice using HMS Ark Royal as a back drop
  • Beach assault with Royal Marines and a Ford Fiesta
  • Racing the Bugatti Veyron against an RAF Typhoon fighter
  • Playing ‘British Bulldogs’ against modern army vehicles

Now this might all seem to be a bit boys with toys, on the part of the Top Gear team, and I would not demure from this, but this is excellent product placement by the MoD, and should be seen as such.

According to the MoD if they had wanted to advertise on ITV it would have cost them £50,000 for every thirty seconds.

In a statement the MoD said: “The Top Gear filming took place during scheduled training hours. In no circumstances were resources diverted from other activities to support this filming. It is common for the media to cover military training exercises.

“Showcasing our people and equipment on popular television programmes is an excellent way to raise public awareness about the work of the armed forces and to encourage support for our troops.”

Quite right.

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