Cadbury subsidiary Trebor Bassett is threatening to pull all its 4m advertising from ITV if the channel fails to improve the size of its audience.
Trebor marketing director Bruce Burnett says the confectionery giant currently spends about half its 8m annual TV ad budget with ITV.
But he claims falling audience figures and rising advertising costs mean he could scrap all campaigns in the future.
“ITV has got to realise that it can’t live on past glories. Every year is like a blank sheet and we look at what we are going to do.”
At the moment, Trebor Bassett’s non-ITV TV advertising is split equally between Channel 4 and satellite channels.
Burnett says support for Channel 4 and satellite could increase, or the emphasis could move away from TV towards sponsorship opportunities, possibly of events.
But he rules out leaving the medium altogether. “Our media planner and buyer, Motive, works in a very imaginative way,” he says.
Bassett’s dispute with ITV is the first to come to light in what has been an unusually quiet annual negotiating season.
A small number of advertisers and ITV sales houses usually fail to agree a new deal by the beginning of the new year. However, it is unusual for an advertiser to threaten to drop the whole network.