Any objective referee in the World Cup grudge match between ITV and
TV media buyers would be bound to conclude that both sides have fumbled
the ball. With TV soccer audiences hitting higher-than-expected levels -
almost 11 million Britons watched England’s victory over Tunisia -
advertisers might have been expected to have been trampling each other
in the rush to take advantage of the cheap airtime.
Not so. ITV has apparently got its fingers burned in attempting to
over-charge for World Cup airtime, turning off advertisers who preferred
to spend in April and May rather than be held to ransom. While ITV might
be said to have got exactly what it deserved, it has a point when it
argues that, by paying agencies fees rather than commission, advertisers
have encouraged sloth and complacency rather than the fleet-footedness
needed to take advantage of the short-term deals on offer.
The result is an absurd situation in which companies are foregoing an
unparalleled opportunity to reach two highly fickle categories - young
people and audiences normally hostile to advertising but attracted to a
sport moving upmarket. It all adds up to a compelling argument for
strategic media planning agencies to prod the TV buyers into seizing the
best opportunities as they arise.