Written by Media

Pitchside Advertising

I was out on Sunday evening, and didn’t watch the Brazil v England match live from Brazil, but I did watch the highlights later. Good goals from the Ox and Rooney, but I’ll leave the football alone. I want to talk about the pitchside advertising.
As the match kicked off, the pitchside advertising switched from looked like static ads viewable in the stadium, to what at first seemed to be those scrolling electronic ads that you get in most Premier League grounds these days.
So far so normal, except that there was a brief shot of James Milner right at the start standing in front of one of those electronic ads and there was ugly keying all around him. In other words, it looked like the technology that weather presenters had to stand in front of the map before they refined green screen technology.
Then I began to notice the ads themselves a bit more. There was an advert for Teletext which wanted to know “Do you want to get away like Wayne?”
Huh? That doesn’t seem very nice. He’s on the pitch you know. But of course – he can’t see it can he. He can just see the fixed ads for big brands like Nike. Another ad was for BT Sport, but only seemed to mention their UFC coverage. A bit odd. Most distasteful was an ad for a payday loans company I’d not previously heard of. Now I despise those companies in particular. They prey on the needy (An aside: doesn’t Nicholas Parsons earn enough from presenting Just A Minute? I’d happily see him get paid more if it meant that he stopped doing voiceovers for one of the bigger companies in the market).
So the first half, which Brazil dominated, was full of these ads aimed squarely at Brits. But that almost certainly meant that ITV was being delivered a UK-specifc feed.
To be clear, I’m 99% certain that ITV had nothing to do with any of this. They only sell programme advertising, and Ofcom doesn’t let them run in-game ads. But if the club or competition sells ads, then ITV has to show them. It’s certainly not unusual for pitchside ads in overseas games to be aimed at UK audiences. Whoever pays the most gets the ads (hence ads in Chinese at Premier League games). Indeed on occassion, two sets of cameras are used to give both home and away audiences localised ads. But I’m not clear what happens when ITV is being delivered a feed that has deliberately had ads “injected” into it.
For whatever reason, after halftime, the “injections” had been cut off. If ITV did this, then they did right. We didn’t get awful green screen technology distracting us. Nor did we get unpleasant ads from either holiday companies seemingly mocking a player on the pitch, or a loans outfit failing to say how high their APR is (something that almost certainly would fall foul of the ASA code in the UK).