Media: Double Standards - 'Claptrap, paranoia and lack of understanding'

Two TV brand partnership architects set the record straight on advertiser-funded programming.

JON LEWIS - HEAD OF COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT, FIVE

- Is there too much hype around advertiser-funded programming/branded content?

I wouldn't say there's too much hype, but there's a fair amount of ill-informed claptrap sloshing about. There's no substitute for getting the basics in place, having a great programme idea and managing client expectations from the very start.

- What's the best example of AFP you've seen?

The Pepsi Chart Show on five wasn't huge in audience terms, but it used all the key elements of successful AFP by leveraging the brand partnership through every possible layer of media.

- What's the most interesting commercial partnership you've developed in the past year?

The most commercially stimulating has been our partnership with Party Poker.com, the success of which has exceeded all expectations.

- How interested are advertisers still in traditional programme sponsorship?

We see no sign of any diminution in interest - quite the contrary, in fact. Our relationship with Peugeot and its long-running commitment as the sponsor of our Evening Movie - a partnership now into its fourth year - says it all really. It is becoming increasingly important to leverage deals off-screen into point-of-sale, events and via other media - Peugeot really understands this.

- What's your style of selling to advertisers?

I think it's our major USP. There are downsides to being relatively small but a key benefit is genuine internal integration. We are in a position to offer advertisers access to a whole repertoire of opportunities, from broadcast sponsorship to branded content, licensing, publishing, co-branding and online partnerships.

- At what stage in a programme's evolution do you start looking for a sponsorship?

No stock answer. With the cricket we had 12 months to fine-tune the proposition. Then again, some dramas are on air within a few weeks of acquisition. In an ideal world, you're looking and thinking from day one.

- How has technology changed the face of sponsorship?

Interactive sponsorship applications are now almost commonplace and certainly offer a degree of accountability that previously didn't exist. "Text to screen" mobile applications are another area that we believe will deliver incremental value.

- Typically, how much input does a sponsor have into the content of a programme?

Excuse me? Precisely none - that's how much!

- Is there any particular type of programming that works best for sponsors?

Absolutely not. That's one of the good bits about this job. We're constantly uncovering fresh possibilities. The notion of Rolls-Royce supporting the Royal Institute Christmas Lectures on five would probably have caused Dawn Airey to suffer a seizure. But things move on.

- What are your favourite TV shows?

I'm a typical light viewer. Limited exposure but predictable and relatively easy to reach. Prison Break has become unmissable. Also, I hate to admit it, but I have already been sucked in by the freaks on Big Brother 7.

- How do you relax outside work?

You don't think hair like this looks after itself, do you?

- When did you last get drunk?

As my wife is an avid Campaign reader, that would have to be my stag night.

GARY KNIGHT - BRAND PARTNERSHIPS DIRECTOR, ITV

- Is there too much hype around advertiser-funded programming/branded content?

Hype, paranoia and a lack of understanding that it is all about creating a real show for people in the real world.

- What's the best example of AFP you've seen?

I would have to say Orange Playlist. It got a second 26-week commission, so it passed the acid test!

- What's the most interesting commercial partnership you've developed in the past year?

Fortunately, there is no one deal that stands out as we have so many in play at the present time.

- How interested are advertisers still in traditional programme sponsorship?

Very. Broadcast sponsorship is still the closest link you can get with the equity of a show without actually being in it. This has also been reflected in the growth of sponsorship revenue - ITV is up by 20 per cent in the first half of this year alone.

- What's your style of selling to advertisers?

Focus on the concept of brand partnerships, creating commercial franchises that run in parallel to viewer franchises.

- At what stage in a programme's evolution do you start looking for a sponsorship?

In an ideal world, at the point where a commissioning team is seriously considering taking the show.

- How has technology changed the face of sponsorship?

For the good I believe. You can now activate traditional off-air elements in an on-air format, eg. sampling, direct response, additional info on products etc. It has also helped us turn around some very effective creative work.

- Typically, how much input does a sponsor have into the content of a programme?

None. First, it is strictly against the Ofcom code. Second, it's the production team who are the key players in creating great content that viewers want to watch.

- Is there any particular type of programming that works best for sponsors?

The most powerful are those that allow full off-air exploitation as well as the on-air activity. The individual genre is not important.

- What are your favourite TV shows?

I love the Inspector Morse shows and the Agatha Christie adaptations but I am still waiting for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the TV series!

- How do you relax outside work?

I am really interested in Oriental arts, so it's karate and t'ai chi for me.

- When did you last get drunk?

I have not got horribly drunk for ages, but probably last summer the day before I went to South-West France on holiday. Very delicate the next day!

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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).