MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: There's more than one way to get ads past the BBC's ban

They say it is a columnist's prerogative to change their mind. I'll

go along with that, except when it comes to advertising on the BBC. I'm

against it, I always have been and I know of no present circumstances in

which I might change my mind (ie. I reserve the columnist's right to

change my mind). For their part meanwhile, those dear souls at ISBA

remain equally wedded to the view that the BBC should take ads.



I'm against it for the simple reason that it would spread the jam too

thin. There isn't enough TV advertising to go round the BBC and the

commercial channels - at least not enough to maintain programme budgets

high enough to guarantee the quality of output that would, in turn,

ensure ratings which attract advertisers. Incidentally, as TV ad revenue

falls off a cliff now, I wonder where ISBA stands today. If it was a bad

idea even when times were good, it looks positively daft now.



My real point, however, is that I don't understand why ISBA's getting

all het up about it anyway because, if you take a wide perspective, it's

clear advertisers are already using BBC properties. It's just that

they're not doing it on the BBC itself.



I saw this for myself a few days ago at breakfast. For there on the

packet of Coco Pops was a massive Walking with Beasts promotion, Beasts

being the successor to the BBC's phenomenal Walking with Dinosaurs.

Literally speaking, this isn't advertising on the BBC, but if you define

a medium as something that allows you to package up an audience that can

then be sold to advertisers, then indeed this is advertising with the

BBC, not on it; moreover, it is advertising that does not significantly

undermine commercial TV revenues.



In fact, I'd go further and say that this is a better deal for Kellogg

than if ISBA had had its way and it had been able to buy spot

advertising against the series on the BBC. Why?



The price (less than £1 million); the impact it will achieve (13

million packs of cereals for a series whose first episode had an 8.5

million audience); the trailers on the BBC that create awareness of the

series; and the fit between its audience and Kellogg's. Next to Harry

Potter, Walking with Beasts is going to be one of the media events of

the year - and Kellogg is smart enough to see it. The fact that it's a

BBC property makes it all the more interesting.



It's also interesting that a handful of advertisers have already picked

up on this idea of advertising on the BBC by proxy: Burger King linked

with Walking with Dinosaurs; McDonald's has piggybacked off The

Tweenies; and Kellogg and Golden Wonder have tied up with Robot Wars.

Where they're ahead of the game is in the realisation that a) it's not

all about spot advertising and b) a definition of advertising on the BBC

includes tapping into a BBC property wherever and whenever.



- Claire Beale is on maternity leave.



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