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.