Downton Abbey was sponsored by Aviva and used to
boost sales of income protection insurance.
Twice in September, the sponsorship credits took
a narrative mini drama featuring Gary having a motorcycle accident. Each credit
reflected a development in the story.
Broadcast regulator Ofcom judged that the line’
It’s my insurance policy. I think I’m still covered if I do that course.”
promoted the sponsor insurer’s income protection policy as it conveyed the
message that under an Aviva policy you can undertake a training course ad still
receive income protection.
Ofcom ruled that irrespective of whether or not
the benefit is unique to Aviva, the reference promoted a specific benefit of
the sponsor’s policy.
Such promotion was ruled to be an advertising
message and in breach of the broadcasting rules/
In future programmes, Aviva amended the wording.
But despite removing ‘ it’s my insurance policy “ and “ income protection ‘
from the message Ofcom still ruled that the insurer breached the rule. The rule
requires that sponsorship credits broadcast around the programme must not
contain advertising messages or calls to action, and credits must not encourage
the purchase of the product of the sponsor.
Some have argued that it is all nitpicking and technical, but the
simplicity behind the rules is that it must be clear what is programme, what is
advertising, and what is sponsorship. Aviva’s crime was to mix them up.
Income protection insurance news: 10 December 2011