P&G chief demands TV shake-up

Paul Polman, vice-president of Procter & Gamble UK – Britain’s second biggest advertiser – has called for advertising on the BBC, more ads on ITV and the abolition of station average price.

Paul Polman, vice-president of Procter & Gamble UK – Britain’s second biggest advertiser – has called for advertising on the BBC, more ads on ITV and the abolition of station average price.

It is the first time someone of Polman’s stature has spoken publicly on such matters. P&G is the world’s biggest advertiser, and its UK advertising budget is nearly 170m. Its brands include Daz, Ariel, Pantene, Fairy and Flash.

Speaking at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers’ annual policy conference this week he said: “The BBC is commercial, so why not give British business an opportunity to share in its commercial arrangements.”

He added: “If just five minutes per day of BBC peak airtime could be switched from BBC self promotion to commercial advertising, it would generate sufficient revenue to cut the licence fee by at least 10.”

He said that over the past five years TV advertising costs have risen by up to 47 per cent, whereas normal retail price inflation increased 14 per cent over the same period. The cost of TV advertising targeted at 16- to 34-year-olds in the London region has risen by 77 per cent in the same period.

Echoing sentiments voiced at the TV 97 conference in Monte Carlo about station average price, Polman said: “P&G buys advertising in over 140 countries and I can honestly say I have never seen such an odd way of buying and selling advertising.

“Imagine placing an order for an important item in the manufacturing process without knowing how many you will get and what the cost will be. Oh, and if the supplier delivers less than you want, you still have to pay the full amount.

“We should give up this misleading and inflationary trading mechanism.”

He added that Channel 5 will not significantly increase commercial audiences. “The introduction of new channels has largely had the effect of fragmenting the commercial market,” he said.

Polman called on TV companies to support an increase in the number of ads per hour. He said there should be a change in the regulations to keep the current seven minutes an hour as the minimum daily average, but the maximum daily average should go up to nine minutes.

Media Analysis, p16

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