UK agency starts new division to make TV programme

LONDON: It looks as if UK-based agencies are taking a leaf out of Indian agencies such as Mudra. Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), the advertising agency famous for its award-winning work for the likes of Levi's, Barclays Bank and Barnardos, has set up a new division dedicated to making programmes. The agency claims that this is a first for a London advertising agency.

The UK's strict programming laws ban the promotion of brands within a programme. In the US, where the rules are less strict, advertiser-funded programming is more commonplace, with Pepsi spending millions of dollars on a new prime time game show that will give contestants the opportunity to win $1billion.

A Guardian report states that BBH has hired former Virgin Radio executive Mark Boyd as head of content to help set up opportunities for clients to promote their brands through programming, rather than paid-for advertising.

BBH managing director Gywn Jones was quoted as saying: "Agencies have been talking about this for some time, but I suspect one of the reasons it hasn't happened is it's a very different business from making commercials. We believe television as a medium is still enormously important for advertisers, but we need to look at new ways of communicating messages about brands. Mark's job will be to talk to the production companies and the commissioners and act as a facilitator for clients."

The report states that Boyd joins after a stint at Stream MSI, where he worked on advertiser-funded programming for companies including Playstation, News International, Cussons and Virgin One.

"Despite a few high-profile examples such as the Pepsi Chart Show on Channel Five and Granada's The Real DIY Show, financed by B&Q, advertiser-funded programming has been slow to take off in Britain," Boyd was quoted as saying.

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