ITV is understood to have signed up Commercial Union to sponsor the next series of top-rating Sunday night drama series London’s Burning.
It is expected to be the largest network sponsorship deal struck so far this year.
However, close links between a sponsor’s business and its sponsored programme’s subject have caused problems with other deals.
Peak Practice, the drama based on a rural medical practice, was sponsored briefly by medical insurer Private Patients Plan, or PPP, until the Independent Television Commission intervened last year.
The ITC deemed the PPP sponsorship unacceptable, despite originally giving permission for the arrangement to go ahead. It subsequently ruled the association could not be continued in a second series.
Negotiations have been under way between ITV sales house Laser and CU for some months. As Marketing Week went to press, the deal was being finalised.
Neither CIA nor Laser could comment further.
The London’s Burning sponsorship is understood to include a number of off-air activities supplementing the on-air association.
The match between CU, one of the UK’s leading insurance companies, and the weekly drama of a London fire brigade, is a much neater fit – unlike some early network sponsorships, such as AEG’s involvement with detective series Poirot.