Boycott threat to ITV sales houses

Marketing directors have been urged to boycott one or more of the ITV sales houses as a radical solution to airtime inflation. The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers says it will support such a move.

The call for a boycott came during this year’s Marketing Forum, held last week aboard the P&O cruise ship the Oriana.

Mark Horgan, marketing director at McVitie’s UK, called on colleagues to mount a concerted campaign to cut spend on TV and force down prices, by suggesting a boycott of one of the three sales houses. At the same time, Philip Plowman, marketing director of Holsten UK, advised advertisers to take the situation into their own hands by cutting demand.

Horgan’s drastic suggestion involves calling on the UK’s top five advertisers, including Procter & Gamble and BT, to exploit their buying power – about 500m a year – by boycotting with at least one of the sales houses.

John Hooper, director general of ISBA, said he would support such a boycott. He had earlier slammed ITV, saying: “ITV is holding down supply so prices stay up. It is a monopolistic manipulation of supply.”

Philip France, managing director of ITV sales house Laser, resp-onded to the criticisms by saying: “Extra minutage could reduce inflation on a temporary basis but it will decrease ad effectiveness. We hate inflation. We lose money each year because people vote with their feet and move money into other media.”

The seminar, which took place days after the Independent Television Commission blocked a request from ISBA to increase minutage, also heard demands from marketing directors that ITV should improve its programme output and scheduling, and increase its marketing efforts, to win share from the BBC.

David Cuff, broadcast director at Initiative Media, repeated calls to move the Government’s COI advertising to the BBC. This could reduce inflation by one per cent.

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