The days when major category advertisers were reluctant to share ad
breaks with their competitors may be numbered.
Last week, a number of car advertisers expressed a willingness to do
away with the voluntary agreement which for years has meant just one car
ad per break (Marketing, April 23).
Mike Moran, marketing director at Toyota, certainly believes it’s time
for change in the TV market - at least as far as car advertisers are
’I’d have no problem advertising with anyone in the same break. The
agreement is very old and it’s never really been tested. I’d be happy to
try it, if there was another advertiser who felt the same way,’ he
Moran’s argument is simple: under the current agreement, ad spots are
highly sought after and hard to come by, especially in the run-up to the
August registration period.
Not only would break sharing free up much valued spots, but it would
’There could be a compelling argument for doing it, particularly if
media inflation continues to be such an issue,’ says Moran.
Other car advertisers agree. Chris Owens, marketing director at Mazda,
says: ’The days have gone when exclusivity was a factor. Looking at
newspapers and posters, there isn’t a strong case for solus TV
advertising. Consumers are far more educated now and the pressure will
come for change.’
Observers believe such arguments may hold water for the car market,
because different cars target different audiences - look at the
difference between a Ford and a BMW, for example.
Other highly competitive categories such as alcohol, telecoms and
financial services have also traditionally adhered to the same
’gentlemen’s agreement’, despite the fact that, with any other medium,
proximity to a competitor is a fact of life.
But when it comes to sectors such as financial services, a different
dynamic is at work. NatWest certainly wouldn’t want to share a
’Unlike BMW or Skoda, we are offering very similar products to our
competitors,’ says a spokeswoman.
And alcohol has problems, too. Andy Roberts, a director at Motive
Communications, which handles media for Whitbread, looked at the value
of putting more than one brand in a break, but decided not to do it in
’We tend to separate brands from a media strategy perspective. With
Boddingtons we use lots of football and with Stella it’s films.
Whitbread wouldn’t put two lagers in a break such as Heineken and
Stella. But in certain circumstances it’s feasible they might put Stella
and Murphys in one break.’
Roberts doesn’t believe break sharing will become widespread. ’With the
launch of Channel 5 and satellite and cable, actual advertising minutage
is increasing, which works in our favour.’
However, agencies with car clients have welcomed the move. David Cuff,
broadcast director at Initiative Media, which handles Peugeot Citroen,
says he intends to raise it with his client.
Nick Theakstone, broadcast director at MediaVest, says his agency has
explored this with its client Fiat in the past, but adds: ’I would want
to tread quite carefully.’
Marketers such as Moran and Owens believe it is only a matter of time
before the practice becomes more widespread, despite issues of clutter
Others, however, see it as a slippery slope. Nigel Brotherton,
communications manager at the Volkswagen Group is dead against
’It would lead to a two-tier cost-structure: the ’discounted’ price
would become what we are paying now and there would be a premium for
exclusivity, which would lead to inflation,’ he says.