UTV bids to lure big brands to Irish ad breaks

ITV’s commercial team will represent UTV Ireland in the UK market

UTV Ireland commercial director Daragh Byrne (left), head of channel Mary Curtis and managing director of UTV Television Michael Wilson watch as ‘Mr Selfridge’ star Jeremy Piven delivers the message that UTV Ireland is now open for business, at an event held in Dublin.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

UTV Ireland commercial director Daragh Byrne (left), head of channel Mary Curtis and managing director of UTV Television Michael Wilson watch as ‘Mr Selfridge’ star Jeremy Piven delivers the message that UTV Ireland is now open for business, at an event held in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Apple may be tied to Ireland via its complicated tax arrangements and a workforce of 4,000 in Cork, but there is one thing it doesn’t do here: advertise with Irish broadcasters.

It’s not the only big brand with Irish customers to run campaigns on UK television but not book airtime in the Republic, and UTV Ireland’s new commercial director Daragh Byrne would like to change that when the station debuts next year.

ITV’s commercial team will represent UTV Ireland in the UK market, and ex-TV3 executive Byrne, who officially started his new job earlier this month, has identified “future collaboration” with the British broadcaster among his plans. “ITV delivers massive scale,” says Byrne.

“Liaising with ITV” is also one of the duties included on several of the sales vacancies listed on the UTV Ireland website.

Domestic content

UTV Media and ITV are separate public companies; however, they are linked via their holding of “Channel 3” licences in the UK television market, while the launch of UTV Ireland in the Republic has been facilitated by a deal struck between UTV Media and the ITV production subsidiary ITV Studios.

Meanwhile, at home, a “spectacular” event aimed at advertisers will be held in November, by which point UTV hopes to be able to announce more detail of its domestic content, including the type of shows it plans to make with big-money signing Pat Kenny.

Byrne oversees a commercial team of “25 energetic people” at UTV Ireland’s base in Macken House in Dublin’s Docklands who will sell advertising across television and digital. You cannot launch a television brand in 2015 without a video-on-demand service, and so a UTV Player will be available on desktop and via mobile and tablet apps from January.

The UTV Ireland commercial team will also work with the sales operations at UTV Radio Solutions, the amalgamated digital division and its team in Belfast under the brand name UTV Fusion, which will give clients “the opportunity to meet with one person”.

UTV Ireland’s commercial strategy “goes way beyond just spot advertising”, according to Byrne, with the station open to offers on sponsorship, advertiser-funded programming – known in the industry by the acronym AFP – and product placement.

As far as programme sponsorship is concerned, it will be advantageous if Kenny’s show is not purely in the current affairs genres, as news and current affairs TV shows are not permitted sponsors under Broadcasting Authority of Ireland rules. In 2009, Byrne’s former employer TV3 attempted to reclassify Tonight with Vincent Browne as an entertainment programme in order to circumvent the regulation.