By the time the festive season is over we can pretty much guarantee
two things: one, you’ll be reviewing your gym membership due to
excess-related guilt syndrome; two, you’ll be acutely aware that Toyota
has launched its new family saloon - the Avensis.
This is because Toyota’s ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi struck a deal last
week to sponsor every available ITV programme on New Year’s Eve and New
The pounds 18m tie-up also secures Toyota the ITV New Year sponsorship
rights for the next five years, including the millennium, as well as the
channel’s movie premieres for the next three years and the disability
programme Link in 1998.
Toyota marketing director Mike Moran is predictably effusive about the
investment. ’This is a fantastic deal. It will give the Avensis maximum
presence at launch and guarantee maximum awareness for the Toyota brand
over the next few years,’ he says.
John Hardie, ITV’s new marketing and commercial director, joins the
He talks about breaking new ground in sponsorship and of ’the largest
and longest future investment ever negotiated by any UK network’.
But just how good a deal is it for Toyota? And is there a danger that
viewers will become irritated by a bombardment of endless motoring
messages at this time of relaxation?
Jean-Paul de La Fuente, senior vice-president of TV at sponsorship
agency ISL, is a positive observer. ’It’s a very interesting sponsorship
and an excellent idea. Research shows that repeated exposure over an
intensive period is an effective way of achieving high recall.’
Intense of purpose
’This concentrated approach is a good way of addressing concerns over
increasing fragmentation of audiences and a growing tendency for viewers
to dip in and out of programmes,’ adds de la Fuente.
However, Mark Wood, commercial director at BSkyB, is less impressed.
’I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It’s a lot of money but it’s
also over a long time period and a lot of programmes.
’Every sponsorship is different. If Toyota particularly wanted blasts of
awareness among a mass audience then this is what they’ll get.’
At first glance this ’throw a lot of money at TV sponsorship and hope
some of it sticks’ approach seems to fly in the face of current thinking
about tapping into viewers’ loyalty to particular programmes and the
cost-effectiveness of niche targeting.
Over the past year we have seen a raft of TV sponsorship deals that
carefully marry with a programme theme and audience sensibilities (see
box). What ever happened to that marketing cliche - brand ’fit’?
De la Fuente concedes there may be a downside but points out that a car
is now a mass-market product, with men, women and children having a say
over its purchase.
And let’s face it, when Cadbury signed its highly successful pounds 10m
sponsorship of Coronation Street last year, the two products at first
seemed strange bedfellows. There has also been doubt over the
effectiveness of the niche-targeted Wella/Friends deal.
In response, Mike Gorman, Saatchi & Saatchi’s media director, stresses
that the rationale for the deal was about intensity of impact.
The car with front ...
’This is an individual case. We wanted maximum awareness for a new
product and the theme is very much a new car for the New Year,’ says
As he points out, the festive season is a ’messy time of year’ for
Newspapers are not so popular, the poster season is ending and TV
viewing patterns are different. ’If you’re trying to hit male and adult
audiences, they may be watching at different times than usual.’
This is true. But one has to wonder why Toyota chose this route in the
first place. Wouldn’t it have been better to build up more carefully
targeted advertising over a longer period of time - a route taken by
Ford with its Puma launch?
A spokesman for Toyota says: ’Part of the reason was the need to phase
out the old model before introducing the Avensis on January 8, but we
also decided a high impact launch followed by advertising in the New
Year would be more effective than the drip, drip approach.’
But Toyota faces the risk that the core audience of males, and
particularly those not involved in car purchase, will be more irritated
than inspired by the constant bombardment of car messages.
’There’s always a risk that the creative is not as imaginative, engaging
and entertaining as we intend it to be,’ says Gorman, ’But we will be
rotating it cleverly to avoid the annoyance factor.’
By the time you’ve hoovered up the dead pine needles from the Christmas
tree you will have your own view as to whether Saatchi & Saatchi’s
optimism is justified.
TARGETED SPONSORSHIPS SIGNED OVER THE PAST YEAR
BRAND PROGRAMME BROADCASTER VALUE START DATE
Pepsi Pepsi Chart Channel 5 N/A February 98
Persil ER BSkyB N/A October 97
Douwe Egberts Frasier Channel 4 pounds 350,000 October 97
Tizer Chart Show ITV pounds 500,000 May 97
Wella Friends Channel 4 pounds 5m February 97
Going Places Blind Date ITV pounds 2m December 96