ITV should be ashamed of its crippling airtime costs, according to
one of the UK’s biggest advertisers speaking at last week’s Incorporated
Society of British Advertisers’ policy conference.
Michael Hebel, the chairman of Unilever’s advertising committee, led the
attack on ITV which, he said, had suffered advertising airtime inflation
of 44 per cent over the past five years.
’I’m sure that ITV will not be pleased with this. But the fact is that
they should be ashamed of it. It’s an appalling performance for a brand
leader,’ Hebel told delegates.
The attack came as advertisers again took the opportunity to raise the
issue of extra minutage on ITV, even though calls for nine minutes per
hour of advertising have been consistently rejected by the Independent
According to Hebel, nine minutes an hour of advertising across all
segments of the day would increase the commercial impact delivery of ITV
and Channel 4 by between 15 and 20 per cent - and would have helped
reduce airtime inflation by almost the same amount.
More than half of ITV inflation is being driven by the channel’s loss of
audience, Hebel said, but advertisers themselves have also contributed
to inflation by chasing discount and overlooking the absolute price
To combat this, advertisers must incentivise their media buyers for
absolute price performance rather than the discount against station
’For too long we’ve been our own worst enemy by being part of a system
that rewards suppliers for delivering less.’
Hebel called on advertisers to lobby both ITV and Channel 4 for extra
minutage and called upon the BBC to carry a limited amount of
advertising to alleviate the problem.
His feelings were echoed by advertisers in the audience. Gary
Cunningham, the marketing services director of Procter & Gamble, said he
was disappointed that two of ITV’s biggest customers had been knocked
down on the issue of minutage and criticised ITV for not listening to
its key customers.
Richard Eyre, ITV’s chief executive, said more minutage would reduce