O2, the former BT Cellnet, is to sponsor the third series of Big Brother.
The mobile phone network claims it has signed a letter of intent, following BT Cellnet’s sponsorship of the second series last year.
Media buying and sponsorship agencies the Allmond Partnership and Drum PHD are handling negotiations on behalf of O2. The programme will once again be produced by Endemol and broadcast by Channel 4 and its digital interactive sister, E4.
Last year’s Big Brother surprised sceptics by proving even more popular than the original series, which was sponsored by Southern Comfort. The programme made extensive use of new media, such as interactive TV, the Web, WAP and SMS messaging.
An O2 spokesman claims last year’s sponsorship worked “incredibly well” and resulted in “particularly high levels of interest” among 16to 24-year-olds. However, the renamed brand will effectively be starting from scratch in terms of awareness, bringing into question the value of last year’s sponsorship.
Laurence Munday, managing director of Drum PHD, which also negotiated last year’s deal, says this year’s sponsorship package will encompass “much more than just the broadcast”, extending to licensing rights and “other add-ons”.
The new ten-week series is expected to air at about the same time as last year’s, which began at the end of May.