Insights Brand funded programming: skip to the content

The traditional commercial model of interruptive television advertising always had an achilles heel. Adverts can be easy to ignore. The start of the ad break is still for many the time to put the kettle on, check messages or contemplate the last fifteen minutes of the main event: the content.

With brand funded programming the advert becomes part of the content and therefore, part of the main event. For brands, the relationship with a consumer bought by thirty seconds of interruptive exposure is easily eclipsed by thirty minutes of integrated exposure.

What is brand funded programming?

This term has broad application but generally refers to any arrangement in which a company pays to integrate their brand in a programme rather than paying for commercial ad spots. Examples include programme sponsorship, product placement and, increasingly, brands producing their own longer form content.

Why now?

First seen in the 1930s, when laundry powder manufacturers invested in daytime radio drama and the soap opera was born, brand funded programming isn’t new – but today’s scale of demand from both broadcasters and brands is.

From a broadcaster perspective, unprecedented demand for new programming from viewers coupled with falling advertising revenue and rising costs has left a gap in production budgets that brands are in a unique position to fill.

From a brand perspective, such arrangements allow brands to tie in more closely with a programme which shares its values (an increasingly important consideration) and to piggy-back on the commercial success of a programme.

What are the main issues for brands to consider?

As with conventional advertising the Ofcom broadcasting code rules must be followed. The transactional affiliation must be clear. Content must remain editorially independent, and the programming content or schedule should not impact broadcaster’s independence.

There are multiple ways for brands to participate in brand funded programming. It may be that a broadcaster briefs production partners to find an appropriate brand for future or pre-existing content or a brand seeks out a project that fit their values.

Brands want to know that the content they are funding will not radically change during production and that the brand’s input and values will be perceptible to a viewer.

All parties want a clear contractual understanding of the key commercial terms, including distribution, rights of publicity, promotion and third-party licensing.

Considering these points early will save time and possible strife down the line.

This article was first published as part of our “Expert insight on advertising, marketing & sponsorship” publication. Read insights on similar topics in the full publication here