Aviva revamps Downton Abbey idents as Ofcom launches investigation

Aviva, the insurance brand, has modified the idents for its sponsorship of 'Downton Abbey', as broadcasting regulator Ofcom launches an investigation into the original bumpers.

Aviva's idents
Aviva's idents

Aviva is the headline sponsor of 'Downton Abbey' as part of a wider deal covering ITV's drama premieres and its idents used real-life customer experiences to demonstrate how it looks after its customers in times of need.

The 'Downton Abbey' idents, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, launched on 18 September with the first of ITV’s second series of the period drama and show the benefits of income protection insurance.

The idents dramatised the real-life story of Gary, a customer who suffered a motorcycle accident and lost his job as a result but was helped by Aviva because he had taken out income protection insurance.

Aviva's idents have attracted criticism due to the downbeat tone jarring with the content of the nostalgic Sunday evening programme.

Sue Helmont, the head of brand, Aviva (UK), said Aviva has made a number of changes to its ITV idents. Helmont said: "We are aware that some viewers did not like the approach we took with our recent ITV sponsorship idents.

"The pleasure of the viewing public matters to us a great deal and we hope the style of the new films sits more comfortably alongside Sunday night viewing of 'Downton Abbey'."

The films will continue to be based on real-life customer experiences, including Gary.

An Ofcom spokesman confirmed it received 15 complaints from people who did not like the idents but has closed their complaints because they were not covered by the Broadcasting Code.

However, the Ofcom spokesman confirmed it was investigating the sponsorship credits for potential advertising messages within them.

Under European legislation, there is a set limit to the amount of TV advertising that can be broadcast each hour. Sponsorship is not included in this limit and so it cannot encourage the purchase or rental of goods or services.

'Downton Abbey' by Julian Fellows has been an incredible success story for ITV and the first two episodes in this series both delivered audiences in excess of nine million viewers.

Full statement from Sue Helmont, head of brand, Aviva (UK)

We have made a number of changes to our ITV idents in response to customer feedback.

While we remain wholly committed to raising awareness of protection among consumers, we are always keen to listen to their views and respond to their comments whenever we can.

We are aware that some viewers did not like the approach we took with our recent ITV sponsorship idents. The pleasure of the viewing public matters to us a great deal and we hope the style of the new films sits more comfortably alongside Sunday night viewing of Downton Abbey.

The films continue to be based on real-life customer experiences, including Gary, the income protection customer who many viewers have already seen.

We have worked with our customers throughout the development of the idents, to ensure that their cases were handled as sensitively as possible, with the care and consideration people expect from Aviva.

Our campaign is designed to inform people about the benefits of preparing for the unexpected and we still believe in this fundamental message. However, it’s also important to us that we listen to our customers, and respond to feedback wherever we can.

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