Viewers must be told when a programme or service is sponsored and who is sponsoring it. This is achieved with a sponsor credit which must be distinct from both editorial content and advertising content. The credit must clearly express this arrangement and must avoid advertising messages or calls to action.
The look and feel of sponsorship messages, presented through sponsorship credit bumpers has changed substantially over the last decade with the development of unique, clever and exciting creative ways to deliver commercial communications.
Research, both qualitative and quantitative, has clearly established the power of broadcast sponsorship on a variety of levels; from increasing brand awareness and standout to changing perceptions of the sponsor’s business or activities and to delivering a demonstrable return on investment.
Just as with advertising, an investment in the quality and content of the creative message will reap huge benefits for the sponsor.
Where reference to a product or service serves the sole purpose of identifying a sponsor, or makes explicit the link between the programme and the sponsor, then references to products and services in sponsor credit bumpers are permitted. What you can’t do is create an advertising message.
This is where the creativity and expertise of the production team comes in to play. The most engaging sponsor credits in production you will see on TV and VOD today include thematic links that keep the focus of the credit on the sponsorship arrangement whilst at the same time featuring the sponsor or its products or services in a way that does not overshadow that message, whilst also at the same time keeping the content distinct from advertising. A ‘win win’ situation.
It is permitted to place the sponsor’s brand logo together with explicit references to the product(s) and services, taglines, strap-lines or jingles where these serve the sole purpose of identifying the sponsor or the sponsorship arrangement. The overriding guidance must be that these references cannot directly encourage the purchase/rental of the products or services or make special promotional references to them. Extra care is needed where these are used in combination with footage from a sponsor’s advertising campaign.
The sponsor can create a connection by using visual and verbal references on all of the intro (front), centre and end credit bumpers.
The standard time lengths for sponsorship bumpers are:
The following information must be included in all sponsor credits:
On occasions where break bumpers are very short, there may not be enough time to include both a visual and a verbal reference. Under these circumstances we believe that a visual or verbal reference is the preferable approach.
Contact details, including telephone numbers and URL’s can be included in sponsor bumpers. The regulations require that the size and duration of the contact details must be kept to a minimum. In most cases only one of these methods of contact is allowed on sponsorship bumpers.
The sponsor’s name may be included in the title of the programme in some circumstances. For example, where an event sponsor is also sponsoring the televised broadcast of the same event, the the programme name can include the name of the sponsor (e.g. “The STV Jobs Music Awards”). The inclusion of the sponsor’s name in a programme title would have to be discussed with the programme producer and STV’s compliance department.
Ofcom is the communications regulator who regulates TV, radio and mobiles amongst other things. Ofcom has a statutory obligation to draw up and maintain a statutory code which covers television and therefore television sponsorship. With regard to Video On Demand, Ofcom has delegated some of its duties, which includes the rules for sponsorship on Video on Demand, to the Authority of Television On Demand (ATVOD). In addition, some elements of the UKs Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) Code may apply.
Section 9 of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code is dedicated to commercial references, which includes sponsorship, and the Ofcom Code and guidance can be found on Ofcom’s website at: www.Ofcom.org.uk
The Code is determined by statute and each section may be relevant in interpreting and applying the rules. Therefore no rule can be read in isolation but within the context of the whole code.
The principles of section nine of the Ofcom Code are:
Other Codes applicable to Sponsor Credits: