TV chiefs deny ‘deliberately’ pricing out fmcg advertisers

Irate commercial TV chiefs have poured scorn on research from the Billett Consultancy that questions the cost-effectiveness of packaged goods TV ads.

Jerry Hill, chief executive of ITV airtime saleshouse TSMS, is heavily critical of a major Billett presentation that stresses the urgency of creating better mixed media campaigns for “food advertisers” – a category covering all home consumables, from soft drinks to washing powder.

Billett chief executive John Billett says that in the past five years “food’s” share of UK TV advertising has declined from 27 per cent to 21 per cent. He blames TV inflation, which has risen much faster than the retail price index since 1995, fuelled by increasing demand from “higher yielding financial, telecoms and dot-com activity”.

He has outlined his recommendations for advertisers to tackle the situation – for example, by pre-testing non-TV ads to improve mixed media campaigns.

Billett enraged TV contractors by suggesting the drop in the number of TV-advertised “food” brands was due to a deliberate policy.

He said: “That’s got to be more than carelessness by the TV companies; it has to be a reflection of a deliberate policy to reduce the emphasis on their most regular and committed customers.”

Hill, who says he is speaking on behalf of “commercial TV per se”, slammed the presentation for making “pejorative statements not founded on fact”.

He adds: “There is no understanding of the issues the advertisers are facing – for example, the pressure from the retailers – or the enormous efforts of the media to promote the effectiveness of TV.”

Caroline Hunt, head of client sales at Carlton says: “Less than one per cent of our inventory is from dot-coms.”

He points to the decision to expand TSMS’s research programme TVSpan, and ITV’s investment in programming and recent success in increasing audiences.

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