The BBC’s firm stand on commercial messages has provoked a row after
pictures of the racing driver, Damon Hill, appeared in recent TV news
bulletins with the sponsors’ names on his racing suit blacked out.
The rumpus blew up when the BBC chose to illustrate a story about Hill’s
victory in the recent Brazilian Grand Prix with 1993 footage.
The image appeared on screen with the name of Labatt, the Canadian
brewer which in 1993 was a Grand Prix sponsor, obliterated from Hill’s
McCann-Erickson, which has clients in the automotive area, branded the
decision ‘outrageous’ and has complained to the corporation. Hill’s
team, Williams Grand Prix, which supplied the pictures, is also asking
for an explanation. McCanns, whose Goodyear client supplies tyres for
Grand Prix racing teams, also wants to know if the decision was a ‘one-
off’ or indicates a change in BBC policy.
Mark Dibsdall, the agency’s account director on Goodyear, said: ‘Formula
One couldn’t survive without its sponsors. They don’t deserve to be
treated in this way.’
Jane Gorard, the Williams media manager, confirmed she would be asking
the BBC for a response. But she added: ‘I believe it was a cock-up
rather than deliberate.’
The BBC, which was investigating the complaints as Campaign went to
press, said it was uncertain whether the blacking-out had been done by
its news and current affairs or its sports department.