The controversial sponsorship by Vauxhall of ITV’s World Cup
coverage this summer has hit the headlines again after it 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 governing the separation of an
advertiser’s sponsorship credits from its advertising campaign and from
the programme being sponsored.
The ITC Code of Programme Sponsorship prohibits sponsor’s credits from
containing elements which closely resemble the sponsor’s television
Two viewers contacted the ITC to complain about the similarity between
the sponsor credits and two Vauxhall ads. Both featured football
personalities and false voiceovers.
Carlton Television along with 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
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 that 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 the credits as well as in the actual programme being
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 to be a ’performer’.
The ITC ruled that, in both cases, the sponsorship credits were in
breach of the code.