TV was the first, radio followed

I’ll let Nick Higham off his lack of homework, but just this once. He wrote: “So television at last has a marketing bureau… 50 years after the first television commercial” (MW February 17). In fact, TV was the first medium to have a marketing bureau, the British Bureau of Television Advertising (BBTA), jointly owned by all the separately independent (at that time) ITV contractors. Its offices, with a staff of about eight, were situated in Mortimer Street.

It was set up in the Sixties to market the medium of TV, especially to categories of advertisers such as motor cars and finance, which were not using the medium at that time – TV advertising being mainly largely confined to advertisers of packaged goods.

You only have to look at the growth in the share that TV took of display budgets, or how motor manufacturers, finance houses and so on started using the medium from that time, to see how successful it was.

Having done a great job, it was disbanded in the mid Seventies during the oil crisis, when ad revenue fell like a lead weight.

Organisations such as the Radio Advertising Bureau came much later, very much modelled on the BBTA.

It’s good to see TV, in a new environment, all working together again, but with different aims than before.

Hugh Johnson

Head of commercial marketing and research

Channel 4 Television

London SW1


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