Posted on: Friday 02 July 2010 12:23pm

Get the lowdown on advertiser-funded programming and online content.

Moderator: Stewart Clarke, Editorial Director, Informa Telecoms & Media


Chantal Rutherford-Brown, Head of Programming / Branded Content, MEC

Paul Shuttleworth, Creative Director, Handle and Spout

Emma Tennant, Controller of Digital Channels, ITV

Suzanne Wright, Senior Associate, Content and Standards, Ofcom

Ad funded programmes have been given a real boost by the recession. With more shows competing for fewer funds it certainly seems to be the way ahead for some indies.

Emma Tenannt (ITV) told delegates that CITV had commissioned four ad funded programmes in the past year.Two were fully funded and two partially funded. Sometimes advertisers approach them with an idea and they then offer indies a chance to pitch for the work. In other instances an indie may come to them with an advertiser already on board. But she stressed a programme has to fit with the channel. They won’t take it just because it’s free.

But what’s in it for the brands? Chantal Rutherford-Brown (MEC) who works as a mediator between brands and production companies said they get input into the look and feel of the programme but not editorial control. They can also negotiate with the channel as to what time of year the programme will be broadcast.

Chantal worked with Paul Shuttleworth (Handle and Spout) on ‘Farm Camp’ last year. This was a ten part series fully funded by Morrisons supermarket. It worked for Morrisons,because the programme coincided with their ‘Let’s Grow Campaign’. Chantal said in addition to funding the programme, Morrisons had a big advertising campaign in their supermarkets to promote the programme with posters and specially branded lunchboxes. Emma Tenant admitted this type of promotion was useful as CITV has virtually no marketing budget. Paul said, in this instance, he didn’t feel a conflict of interest because the programme was all about children finding out about where their food comes from which sat very well with a supermarket. And in addition the broadcaster always has sign off.

Suzanne Wright was representing OFCOM. She insisted there are very tight controls over sponsored programming. The bumpers and stings can say who the sponsor is but it cannot be a hard sell. Her advice was to get a broadcaster on board as early as possible so they can guide you through the process. As to who is allowed to sponsor programmes – the rules are no different. If a company is not allowed to have adverts around children’s programming, such as those products high in fat, sugar and salt then they cannot fund a programme.

Paul admitted it is incredibly hard to find a sponsor. His advice was to develop a good relationship with the channel so they approach you if an advertiser comes to them.