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The Proliferation of Ad Funded Programming (AFP’s)

hyundai-celebrity-apprentice

Advertiser Funded Programming is a lesser seen brand marketing vehicle in the Irish marketplace but it has actually been around since the 1930’s, in fact the original daytime TV dramas were heavily aligned to soap brands thus creating the “soap opera” moniker. In recent years growth has been seen in this sector as brands are increasingly more willing to fund content that is in keeping with their brand values, a misconception of AFP is that it is merely editorial about a brand which is not the case.

A key element of a successful AFP is that the content created be something that the viewer wants to watch, while the funding brand can leverage the output in numerous clever ways the content must be able to stand on its own right. As TV programming produces so many water cooler moments, a successful partnership between brand and programme can create great positive sentiment for both, on and off air. AFP’s do however carry inherent challenges, production of programming requires a long lead time, are expensive and a not well received pilot episode may see a programme shelved, inversely a successful partnership and high quality production could see it being sold internationally to other markets which can generate significant revenue to the funding parties, an example of which was “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? ” which was extensively sold as a successful format worldwide.

Some examples of AFP’s in the Irish TV marketplace include “Dragon’s Den” which was funded by Bank of Ireland, “ The Restaurant” in conjunction with Aldi and “Celebrity Apprentice” in association with Hyundai.

Due to the extensive scale of bringing the AFP concept to air, it must form a part of a larger brand marketing exercise through a legacy association as opposed to merely part of a campaign. Much alike the soap operas originating some 80+ years ago they must give the viewer the entertainment value they seek in order to indirectly promote positive brand sentiment for the advertiser and programme alike. AFP’s require deep integration of advertiser and content to achieve this, as the viewer is unaware of the distinction between AFP and regular programming. So if the advertiser role isn’t core to the content and appears “tacked on” or “superimposed” it can be jarring to the viewer and could jeopardise a great opportunity for high quality owned content creation.