CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE; Why Euro ’96 has to be a chance for ITV to revive itself

How many people do you know who have already written down the Euro ’96 fixtures in their diaries, in their neatest handwriting, complete with kick-off times and details of which channel the games are being shown on? How many have said ‘June’s on hold’ or ‘I’m not sure if I can make that meeting after work on Tuesday 18 June’? If you don’t know why that night’s particularly busy for so many clients, media and agency people alike, then you’re in the wrong game.

How many people do you know who have already written down the Euro ’96

fixtures in their diaries, in their neatest handwriting, complete with

kick-off times and details of which channel the games are being shown

on? How many have said ‘June’s on hold’ or ‘I’m not sure if I can make

that meeting after work on Tuesday 18 June’? If you don’t know why that

night’s particularly busy for so many clients, media and agency people

alike, then you’re in the wrong game.



Euro ’96 is the perfect excuse for our male-dominated industries to mix

business with pleasure, and then some. Not least of all because, as our

feature on page 34 shows, it is a huge business. In fact, in the UK and

much of western Europe, it is bigger business than the Coca-Cola

sponsored Olympics in July. Coca-Cola recognises this and is investing

far more of this year’s UK promotional budget in Euro ’96 than the

Atlanta games. It is a small victory for the forces opposed to

globalisation. And it’s probably as puzzling to some people in Atlanta

as Alain Jacquet’s decision to leave Eric Cantona out of the French side

is to many in Manchester.



For advertisers and media owners, the tournament represents a major, if

costly, opportunity.



So will we be bombarded with messages from sponsors over the next month

or so? What do you think? With sponsorship packages costing pounds 3.5

million each, it is estimated the 11 official sponsors will have to

spend almost as much again on promotional support to get mileage for

their money. Add in the eight ‘official suppliers’ and we potentially

have one giant, unholy mass of football-related advertising. Already

Coca-Cola looks scarily like Nike, which looks scarily like... And who

would bet against the Vauxhall Vectra’s pounds 2.5 million-ish

sponsorship of the television coverage being money well spent? A classic

Lowe Howard-Spink media coup - but Mike Smallwood will be praying that

England make it through the first round.



For ITV, the tournament is a great opportunity for it to revitalise

itself publicly. June will be this year’s best month, and some

imaginative scheduling - hopefully - will enable it to cash in.

However, in general, and England versus Holland aside, ITV has come off

second-best in the first-round draw. Although some deals are done on the

basis of the game rather than who’s got through, it is not difficult to

imagine that messrs Bowley, Desmond and Wootton will be up there with

Smallwood among England’s more fervent supporters.



Bulgaria may yet light the tournament’s fire, of course, but it would be

a great surprise if one or more of Germany, Italy, Holland or England is

not at Wembley on 30 June. It will be interesting to see how co-

operative ITV and BBC are then. Oh, and for the record, my diary’s very

free - in July.



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