- Vauxhall's controversial sponsorship of ITV's World Cup coverage this summer has hit the headlines again after the sponsorship was found to be in breach of the Independent Television Commission code.
According to the ITC's latest programme complaints report, the sponsorship contravened rules on the separation of an advertiser's sponsorship credits from its advertising campaign and from the programme being sponsored.
Two viewers contacted the ITC to complain about the similarity between the sponsor credits and two Vauxhall ads. Both featured football personalities and false voice-overs.
The ITC Code of Programme Sponsorship prohibits sponsor's credits from containing elements which closely resemble the sponsor's television advertising. Carlton Television and TSMS, the sales house which handled World Cup sponsorship on behalf of the ITV network, argued that the sponsorship voiceover styles, footage and messages were different from the ads.
However, while the ITC accepted that steps were taken to make some distinctions between the ads and the credits, it decided that the differences were not enough to satisfy the Code requirements.
At the same time, the ITC's own monitoring found the England manager, Glenn Hoddle, appeared in both a programme interview and in the sponsor's credits that followed. The Code prohibits a "performer" from appearing in credits and in the programme being sponsored.
Carlton and TSMS argued that the Hoddle interview had been included in the programme at short notice and that they did not consider Hoddle to be a "performer" as defined by the Code. But the ITC considers anyone making a speaking appearance in a programme a "performer" and decided that the Hoddle interview was predictable as an element of the programme being sponsored.
The ITC advised Carlton that in both cases, the sponsorship credits were in breach of the code.