Channel 4 has lost its biggest sponsorship deal – the 5m sponsorship of hit US sitcom Friends by haircare products company Wella.
The deal is the second largest in UK television for a single show after Cadbury’s 10m sponsorship of Coronation Street.
Wella marketing group manager Heather Cooper says: “The sponsorship on C4 has served its purpose by achieving high brand awareness for the brand. If we signed again with C4 we would simply be doing more of the same.”
Sources in the TV industry say Wella did not renew the deal because Time Warner, which produces the sitcom, would not allow the haircare company to use Friends characters in point-of-sale and other promotional material.
Cooper adds: “We may have used the characters from the show if we had been able to reach agreement with Warner.”
But Wella has signed a 500,000 deal for Wella Experience to sponsor the latest series of Friends on BSkyB, which began in January and runs for 22 episodes.
Cooper adds: “It is a high quality show and we welcomed the chance to retain some level of in-volvement at this reasonable cost.”
C4 is currently showing unsponsored reruns of the show and will start showing the new series in June.
C4 head of sponsorship David Charlesworth says: “We have opened negotiations with potential partners and hope to have someone on board for the summer.”