Editorial: Jamster spend helps but the ads may degrade TV

Even if you've watched television only once in the past month, you won't have failed to notice the current Jamster ringtones campaign. While these ads, for such "lovable" characters as Sweety the chick and the motorbike-riding Crazy Frog, were once solely the preserve of the satellite channels at the smaller and more youth-oriented end of the TV spectrum, Jamster has launched a full-on TV assault.

Jamster has spent in the order of £5 million in one weekend on the TV campaign in an attempt to extract £3 a week from mobile phone users, usually children, for the use of Jamster downloads. To put this in perspective, if Jamster continued spending at this rate, it would make it TV's largest advertiser.

With the advertiser running a high-frequency clock-hour strategy, the spots are appearing everywhere, even in such apparently incongruous programmes as Channel 4's distinctly upmarket property show Grand Designs.

What you think of Jamster's business model is a matter of personal morality, but no-one can doubt the company is, under current legislation, a perfectly legitimate advertiser and is breaking no rules in running a campaign of this sort. The real problem is that the ads are infuriating.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received upwards of 400 complaints from viewers irritated by the ads but it is not there to uphold the quality of advertising. But surely Jamster is contributing to a poor-quality experience for other advertisers, let alone viewers. Undoubtedly, for the broadcasters in the middle of an advertising revenue drought, the money couldn't have come at a better time, with revenues back in the doldrums. For Jamster's agency, MediaCom, too, the business is welcome.

With broadcasters' strategy for growing the TV market based on luring advertisers from other media, such as direct marketing and press, the worrying thing must be that more of these advertisers will further damage the medium.

Then again, with execrable programmes such as ITV's Celebrity Love Island and five's The Farm, the broadcasters are hardly providing a quality TV environment either.