Call to relax ban on brand sponsorship

Talkback Thames chief executive Lorraine Heggessey has criticised the
regulation that bars brands from sponsoring programme content in the
UK.

She says that the British TV medium misses out on opportunities that are
available abroad, such as the US,…

Talkback Thames chief executive Lorraine Heggessey has criticised the regulation that bars brands from sponsoring programme content in the UK.

She says that the British TV medium misses out on opportunities that are available abroad, such as the US, and on other media platforms including broadband and mobile.

Heggessey argues that sponsorship of programme content will not always compromise editorial quality and that the public is too canny to be “hoodwinked”.

Heggessey, a former BBC1 controller, was speaking about creativity in TV advertising at the Thinkbox Experience conference yesterday. She says: “Regulations make it difficult for in-programme sponsorship here.”

She points to the top-rated show in the US, American Idol, which is sponsored by Coke and features Coke-branded drinks and a Coke-branded “red room”.

“We are not hoodwinking anyone. People are very canny, today’s generation know about sponsorship and product placement.

“Why are we stopping it in TV?” she asks, pointing to the advantage other, less regulated, media have.

Speaking of other non-spot mechanisms allowing brands to interact on TV, Heggessey admits production companies have been slow to exploit advertiser-funded programming (AFP) opportunities on TV, mobile and broadband.

She says: “I think AFP does have a place. We have been very slow to pick up on that as a production sector.” However, she warns against using advertiser funding to buffer cheap programmes.

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