The ITV programme sponsorship market is approaching its tenth anniversary.
Sponsorship expenditure with TSMS stations grew by over 30 per cent in 1997, and this year the number of deals on ITV is increasing (see above) with revenue growth likely to match the previous year.
So with ITV income from sponsorship now approaching 35m and the sport sector alone worth over 10m, how will the business change in the next 10 years?
Critically, the structural issues at media owners, agencies and advertisers that frustrated the fledgling days of the market have been challenged and increasingly overcome.
The development of sponsorship specialists, as well as growing interest from advertising agencies, has led to an increased sophistication.
The ITC has carried out an intelligent evolutionary development of the rules regarding programme sponsorship examining the requests for change from commercial broadcasters whilst protecting the viewers interests.
In some ways, as the regulatory constraints have been responsibly loosened, sponsorship has had a part to play in integrating advertising and marketing disciplines that were hitherto contained within vertical structures. With convergence this will be accelerated in the years ahead.
The tenth anniversary in September should signal the death of the notion that broadcast sponsorship is limited to products simply badging TV shows. That “billboarding” a programme is a method of buying and creating cheap television advertising.
We should put the word sponsorship to one side and examine the strength of “programme association marketing” working with clients to make sure every deal delivers right the way through and that whenever possible everyone gets a benefit including the viewer.
ITV’s strategy is to work with clients in realising the full potential of programme association marketing and we have already witnessed highly imaginative and effective campaigns including competitions to encourage viewers, merchandising and sales promotion.
Selecting the right programme is important as ITV’s Millward Brown research has shown, but the timing of involvement is also key.
This is where we have to supply early and reliable programme and scheduling information to our customers to allow them to build a strategy around the programme.
But this area will not be restricted to the programmes ITV and other broadcasters have ready and waiting. Programmes will be funded in a host of different ways in the coming years from straight funding for UK transmission to a sharing of world rights. These deals will inevitably include airtime but the use of barter to facilitate programme funding and production is now very close.
These opportunities for association with programming will not only exist on the networks. Regional programmes offer strong and powerful hooks for marketing in specific areas or a combination of areas with an advertiser associating itself with a genre such as gardening or cookery.
In the final analysis, our continual tracking studies quite clearly demonstrate the high and sustainable level of brand awareness and image building that programme association can deliver.