Aviva set for renewed consumer campaign after Ofcom ruling

Regulator finds insurer in minor breach of broadcasting guidelines

An element of Aviva’s sponsorship of ITV’s Downton Abbey drama series contravened one of Ofcom’s regulatory guidelines, the media watchdog has ruled.

In a briefing paper published today, Ofcom said a line of speech in one of the short idents – or bookends that top and tail advertising breaks – directly promoted the benefits of Aviva's income protection (IP) policy, and ordered it to be removed.

Aviva’s sponsorship of the ITV hit drama – which attracted nine million viewers for the first episode of the new series – generated debate in both the consumer and trade press and across various social media sites.

The idents depicted the real life case story of Gary who was injured and unable to return to his job after a motorbike accident. In Ofcom’s view, the line “It’s my insurance policy. I think I’m still covered if I do that course!” promoted a benefit of the sponsor’s IP policy, because it conveyed the message that under an Aviva policy customers can undertake a training course and still receive IP.

Ofcom said that sponsorship credits are treated as part of sponsored content and do not count towards the amount of airtime a broadcaster is allowed to use for advertising. As such, the line meant that the ident contravened rule 9.22(a) of the broadcasting code.

No punishment results from the Ofcom ruling and Aviva plans to run a new set of idents from this week.

Sue Helmont, head of brand, Aviva UK, said in a statement: “It’s always our intention to comply with the guidelines and we’re disappointed that Ofcom feels that this ident has fallen on the wrong side of the lines.

“A new set of films are scheduled to go on air this Thursday [8 December] and, as always, we have worked closely with ITV and Channel TV to ensure that they meet regulatory rules.”

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