ITC cries foul over NSPCC ‘virtual’ ad

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) was shown the red card by TV’s watchdog at last week’s FA Cup final after trying to insert a virtual ad on the pitch.

A consortium of companies planned to run a virtual ad on the centre circle matting on the Wembley pitch. The matting is removed just before kick-off, but would have been seen by an estimated 11 million viewers.

The matting carries the logo of Axa, which has paid £25m over four years to sponsor the competition. The wording read: “Axa – Real life supporters.” The plan was to overlay the words “…of the NSPCC”, for 15 seconds.

Axa and ITV sales house TSMS both agreed to the move. But the Independent Television Commission pointed out this goodwill gesture was in contravention of its code.

The ITC’s revised April 1998 Sponsorship Guidance Notes read: “Systems may not be used to place advertising additional to that which is at an event, nor to place advertisements on unused billboards or other sites.”

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