After eleven years the International Chamber of Commerce is due to publish its revised International Code on Sponsorship later in 2003. Osborne Clarke’s Nick Johnson, board member of the European Sponsorship Consultants’ Association, looks at the likely areas to be covered in the revision process.
Who: International Chamber of Commerce, ESCA
When: January 2003
The International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) is in the process of revising its International code on sponsorship. The revised code is expected to be published later in 2003.
Why this matters:
Like other codes, rules and model contracts published by ICC, the code does not have the force of law and is essentially voluntary. However ICC codes have been highly influential in the development of self-regulatory codes and legislation in many countries. ICC’s International code of advertising practice and International code of sales promotion for instance formed the basis for the UK’s British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion (as enforced by the ASA) as well as many of its counterpart codes and laws worldwide.
The code is also intended to be used as a reference point for industry practice on a number of issues. Courts and arbitrators may for instance refer to it for guidance on particular points.
The previous version of the code was published in 1992 and is available from ICC (see http://www.iccwbo.org/home/statements_rules/rules/1992/sponcod.asp).
Since the 1992 version was issued sponsorship has become an increasingly important element of the marketing mix for brandowners and an increasingly important source of revenue for sports, the arts, media owners, venues and others.
Sponsorship practice has also become more sophisticated in a number of ways. It is now extremely common for instance to have multiple sponsors for a sporting event, together with separate sponsors of teams and individuals taking part in the event and separate sponsors again for broadcast coverage of the event in different countries.
ICC’s decision to revise the code is therefore timely as it gives an opportunity both to reflect the development of the sponsorship industry and to improve aspects of the previous version where appropriate.
The ICC taskforce working on the code has consulted with representatives from the European Sponsorship Consultants Association (“ESCA”), the European Group of Television Advertisers and the World Federation of Advertisers amongst others.
Although the revision process is still ongoing, aspects of the code which many expect ICC to address include the following:
Terminology. The 1992 version of the code appears in places to be overly focused on sports and event sponsorships.
The introduction to the code for instance talks about sponsorship as a way “to convey a broad message in association with the event”. It is expected that the revised version will reflect practice across the full range of sponsorship activities including broadcast sponsorship, “name-in-title” and other types of venue sponsorship and sponsorship of individual sports persons.
Patronage. With the distinction between patronage and sponsorship being understood differently in different countries, it is hoped that the revised code will include some guidance on this issue and on the extent to which a “patronage” relationship may be caught by the code.
Media sponsorship. Advertiser/sponsor funded programming has become increasingly important since the 1992 version of the code was published. The revised version will hopefully acknowledge this and permit some level of editorial influence where the sponsor is a programme producer or co-producer (in those countries where this is permitted).
Multiple sponsorships. Article 11 of the existing code prohibits rightsholders from taking on new sponsors without the approval of existing sponsors. This does not necessarily reflect commercial practice and it is anticipated that this and other aspects of Article 11 may be revised.
Humanitarian sponsorships. Many are keen for the revised code to include a provision requiring that sponsorship of charities and humanitarian causes be conducted in a socially responsible manner.
Data capture. With data capture becoming a more significant element of many sponsorships, the revised code is likely to include a provision requiring compliance with relevant data protection provisions.