Agencies predict sponsorship boom to follow ITC rule change

The Independent Television Commission is considering relaxing its sponsorship regulations for TV advertisers.

The Independent Television Commission is considering relaxing its

sponsorship regulations for TV advertisers.

As the system stands, clients are banned from showing their products

during broadcast sponsorship slots. This explains the ubiquitous use of

brand references and straplines during sponsorship bumpers.

Under the new regulations, advertisers will be free to broadcast images

of their products during sponsorship breaks, as long as they don’t clash

with spot advertising and clearly link a programme with its sponsor.

Advertisers will also be able to use voice-overs for the first time.

However, it is still not clear whether the revised rulings will allow

products to be shown in animation.

According to agencies, if the regulations are relaxed it will radically

shake up the sponsorship market and release a flood of new business into

the television market.

Greg Grimmer, managing partner at Optimedia UK, said: ’This is great

news for television. There are plenty of occasions that we have lost out

on client sponsorship as a result of the restrictions. Our client’s

primary concerns are not the programmes they are sponsoring but how we

use the bumper ads.’

Martin Hart, head of sponsorship at the ITC, commented: ’ITC policy on

sponsorship regulation has always taken the side of caution and, to

date, sponsorship has been an area where regulatory intervention has not

been widely required. In this environment of increasingly flexible

regulation, it is essential that we consider a simpler approach.’

Ian Clark, director of TV strategy at MediaCom TMB, commented: ’If these

new measures go through, we will be at liberty to build a whole new

creative through sponsorship and start to see more modes of sponsorship

develop as a result. It is a bit strange that 90 per cent of

advertisements feature the brand, while sponsorship is penalised.’

The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers welcomed the ITC’s


Bob Wootton, ISBA’s director of media services, said: ’This code is

known to be particularly unfathomable and complex, as well as open to

subjective interpretation, which has led to some sponsorship


’The revised code could pave the way for credits to become more dynamic

and less static.’

The ITC stated that the consultation process regarding the decision will

continue until 26 May and the revised code will be published this


The sponsorship code was last revised in autumn 1998 when masthead

programming was extended to terrestrial television.

Recent TV deals include Vodka Source’s sponsorship of Channel 4’s

fashion series Slave and Cockburn’s tie-in with Cold Feet on ITV 2.