Product and contact details can now appear in sponsor’s break bumpers.
Who: Independent Television Commission
When: October 2000
In October 2000 the ITC published its new Code of Programme Sponsorship. Sponsors are no longer prohibited from displaying their products within the credit sequences at the beginning and end of programmes or in break bumpers. The proviso however is that this must help to reflect the link between the sponsor and the programme. What exactly does this mean? Cited examples include the Cadbury’s sponsored Coronation Street credits showing a whole street made of chocolate with chocolate characters, or the Nescafe-sponsored “Friends” credits showing a group of friends sitting on a sofa drinking coffee. Both echo the content of the show and so reflect the link between show and sponsor.
In the same context, sponsors are now free to provide contact details, although again there is a proviso that these do not “contain a direct exhortation to purchase [the product]” or make representations as to its “attributes, benefits or price”.
The ITC’s continuing concerns about distinguishing advertisements and sponsor credits are dealt with by rules which state that credits must not include any extract from advertising campaigns of the sponsor in the last three years and must not be used explicitly to resolve promotions in other media, for example by containing numbers in a scratchcard or other off air promotions.
Another significant change is that for the first time it will be possible to sponsor business and financial programmes.
Although this general prohibition has gone, however, the rules will continue to operate so as to prevent sponsorship occurring where there is any potential influence on editorial content. Accordingly, if any business or finance programmes also falls into any of the categories of programme which are still restricted, such as news or current affairs programmes, they will be unsponsorable.
Why this matters:
Sponsorship currently accounts for only about 2% of UK advertising revenue. Some experts say that it is unlikely ever to account for more than 10% because there is a finite number of suitable programmes. We believe, however, that developments such as this significant relaxation of the ITC Code and potentially more relaxations arising out of the up and coming EU review of the TV Advertising Directive will prove these doom merchants wrong!