Sainsbury’s is axing its £5m flagship sponsorship of ITV1 drama premieres after four years.
The supermarket chain’s contract is due to expire in late spring next year, and it has confirmed that it will not be renewing the deal.
Sainsbury’s will instead focus on its “great products at fair prices” strategy, and will continue to advertise across ITV’s portfolio of channels and online properties.
The sponsorship deal, announced in March 2005, was the first major move by Sainsbury’s into the TV sponsorship arena.
It used the initiative as a means of quelling speculation over Jamie Oliver’s future with the supermarket, with the celebrity chef voicing the trailers which featured recipes prepared by him.
ITV Commercial, ITV’s sales house, is now looking for an advertiser to take the package, which includes major ITV1 peak-time shows, covering first-run and returning dramas, from one-offs to new series. ITV1 drama premieres have included Morse spin-off Lewis, The Children and Lost in Austen.
ITV sponsorship, content partnerships and interactive sales director Gary Knight says the package is “one of the unique” properties on commercial TV, “consistently delivering a valuable up-market audience”.
The package was created in 1996 for banking group HSBC following its acquisition and subsequent rebranding of Midland Bank. It held the sponsorship for eight years before Sainsbury’s took over.
Sainsbury’s decision to end the sponsorship comes as Nielsen figures show that supermarkets have boosted their advertising spend during the six months to October.
Asda increased spending by 52%, Sainsbury’s by 21.3%, Tesco by 18.8% and Morrison’s by 15.2%.