World Cup Advertising

By The Drum | Administrator

July 13, 2006 | 6 min read

It barely seems like four weeks, but World Cup 2006 has come and gone, and so it seems has Scotland’s anticipation of a healthy boost to advertising.

According to media reports Scottish television audiences for non-England games were, in comparison, the largest in the UK, with Scottish viewing rising two per cent higher than the national average. Two thirds of all men watching TV in Scotland were reportedly watching England’s 2-2 draw with Sweden, which was the most watched game of the group stages.

Andy Niblett, head of TV at Feather Brooksbank, admits that it has been a poor tournament in terms of commerce for ITV down south. “From a TV point of view, it’s fairly widely accepted that there’s not been the levels of investment,” he says. “ITV has not taken anywhere close to the levels of investment that they hoped to take through out the tournament. Originally, during Euro 2004, revenue on ITV was up around 17 percent year-on-year and originally they were predicting similar levels of increase but that hasn’t materialised at all. The market has actually been down about four percent just for ITV alone. The broadcast market, as a whole, in June has been even worse affected than that, but of course ITV is the one commercial player which is showing the actual tournament itself.

“There has been effectively a 20 percent swing in ITV’s revenue which has cost it something in the region of £30m just in June alone. The actual performance of the tournament itself on TV has been good. Viewing has been excellent, not just nationally but particularly in Scotland. It’s always very well watched regardless of whether there is Scottish participation. Because of that, there would have been some cost effective pricing for advertising going into the tournament.

“With the lack of revenue in the market, coupled with strong performance, I mean, male viewing is up just over 20 percent in June alone, so there has actually been some very good opportunities on TV for advertisers. But for whatever reason, the advertising market has shied away from the World Cup on ITV.”

Niblett doesn’t believe the lack of performance in the TV sector can all be blamed on the World Cup - or rather Scotland’s lack of presence at it.

“Revenue has been down all year and has dropped significantly across June, July and August with drops of around 20 percent,” he says. “I don’t think that the market has shied away from the tournament itself, there’s a huge downturn in spend, full stop. This is across the whole summer period. I think that the big indicator from a TV point of view is that September is traditionally the time of year when the market picks up as you go into the autumn leading into Christmas. From a TV point of view, it’s been bordering on disastrous from the amount of money that’s come out of the market during the time of the World Cup.”

Graham Patullo, sales director for STV is slightly more positive, following a mildly successful month for sales in Scotland. “From the opening game, and every game since, we have beaten the ITV performance, apart from the England games,” he says. “For Korea versus Togo, we beat the ABC1 men share of audience by 26 percent! The great thing for me is, because of this, there is proof that Scottish audiences watch football on TV, so for me moving forward with Scotsport and Champions League football, I know I’ve got confidence in the audience. Also, because of that performance, we’ve had quite a few advertisers who’ve come in and bought some specific spots to add to the existing campaigns that they might have actually already booked. It’s a tough market. I think everyone knows that, but certainly in Scotland we’ve used the World Cup to our advantage, even though we weren’t there, our audience has watched it.”

Patullo believes that Scotland’s media strength is in its regionality. “In Scotland, the regional market is still punching above its weight and that, regionality, is the strength of ITV,” he says. “We still hope to be fairing far better than the national market in the regions as the year goes on...Regionally across June, because of the packages we put in place, we are happy with the result that we have come through with in a very difficult market.”

With all advertisers cutting down their spending, radio too has had a tough couple of months, but again, it was regional strength that counted. Kevin McAuley, head of agency sales at Real Radio Scotland, is positive that the World Cup hasn’t affected the station in a detrimental way. “From our point of view, in Scotland, we haven’t been affected,” he says. “Nationally about 30-35 percent of our business in Scotland comes from national advertising from the London market. That’s seen a slight slow down, nothing major. But regionally, as far as Scotland goes, we haven’t been affected. June and July has been okay, it’s as we predicted. I think it probably has hit television and press more but radio, we seem to be okay. A lot of it is really to do with the limited inventory we have. We have a certain amount of national business which we take, but the rest, and predominantly the air time we sell on Real Radio, is for Scottish advertisers. Some radio groups do tend to carry a lot more national stuff, some groups carry up to eighty percent national. And they may have been affected more.

“We were in London talking to some other radio groups who said that they had had a tough time of it. But we haven’t found that. I think, again, that is purely down to only 30 to 35 percent of our business coming nationally. The majority of our business is regional.”

McAuley feels that a difference in advertising spend would probably have been more noticeable in Scotland had the country been represented at the World Cup. “I think it would have helped positively because, I dare say, there would have been certain brands who would have styled ads on radio positioned around sports or World Cup bulletins, adding a Satire or tartan feel to their football,” he says. “It would be interesting to see. Hopefully in four years’ time we’ll know.”

So, in the end, the World Cup was a bit of a damp squib as far as advertising was concerned. As we have seen in recent times, there is a real dip in the market, and many will be worried that such a big event, with so many possible advertising opportunities, failed to inspire a real surge in revenue.

What seems the most frightening aspect of the whole debacle is the lack of explanation as to why the World Cup did not bring with it the boost to advertising figures predicted beforehand.


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