10 years of live TV ads

10 years of live TV ads, by Seb Lynch, Clearcast

Ten years ago, Channel 4 made history by broadcasting the most ambitious live ad ever shown on UK television. A team of skydivers jumped out of a plane and formed the letters ‘H’, ‘O’, ‘N’, ‘D’ and ‘A’. So the desire to create must-see, appointment-to-view advertising events was born. Although Clearcast wasn’t involved in the live part of the clearance of the Honda ad (as it only had a delay of a few seconds), since then we have been instrumental in helping to bring this type of ad to TV. Highlights of the last decade include:

  • A Virgin Media ad featuring Keith Lemon live from a silent disco at V Festival
  • Territorial Army ads live from operations in Afghanistan
  • An improvised comedy ad break for Kabuto noodles
  • Sam Smith performing live from London’s Roundhouse for Google Play
  • A live marriage proposal in a First Choice Holidays ad
  • A stuntman free-falling 100 feet in an Assassin’s Creed ad
  • A Virgin Holidays ad live from 18 holiday destinations around the world
  • A Cancer Research ad live from inside a human body

…and ads live from the red carpet of the premieres for Transformers: Age of Extinction, Tomorrowland and XXX3.

Clearcast has been present for the recording of all these ads. For an ad to be called ‘live’ broadcasters allow a five-minute window between the end of recording and the start of transmission, so this is how long we have to decide whether an ad is acceptable. Fortunately so far we’ve never had to reject a live ad.

Assassin's Creed: Leap Of Faith Live Stunt
Assassins Creed Leap Of Faith Live Stunt

As well as these live ads there have been numerous examples of Clearcast providing bespoke clearances for ads which include very last-minute material. For example, social media messages, user generated video, selfies, lottery draws, product launches, viewer chosen content, names of competition winners and references to live television programmes or topical affairs. However, by far the most prevalent use of a live element in UK television advertising is the inclusion of live odds in sports betting ads. This dynamic content doesn’t require Clearcast pre-clearance. We approve a template ad containing the pre-recorded material which is delivered to the broadcaster, then the odds are pulled directly from the bookmaker’s website immediately before transmission which then populate the ad. So far this process has worked without any compliance hiccups.

The big question is how advertisers might want to use this kind of dynamic advertising in the future. The challenge for Clearcast and the broadcasters in the next 10 years is how we respond to the demand for dynamic and addressable advertising that is scalable in the way that the live odds ads have been. The issue is one of compliance. Clearcast works for the broadcasters to protect them from showing ads that don’t comply with the BCAP code. If the broadcasters remove this protection and allow all kinds of dynamic content to populate ads without Clearcast pre-clearance then they’re opening themselves up to a potential regulatory emergency.

If you have an idea for a live or dynamic ad please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us so that we can find the most efficient way of getting your ad to air. Perhaps you’re thinking of a campaign that responds dynamically to this year’s FIFA World Cup or you’re a retailer who wants to promote products directly related to the weather that day? We’re always keen to work with advertisers, agencies and broadcasters to facilitate new ways of enhancing the effectiveness of TV advertising whilst maintaining its integrity.

First Choice screens live marriage proposal

We thought we’d share some feedback from one of our many happy clients. The below is from Tom Stevens at Sassy Films. We worked with him in January last year on a Cancer Research ad live from inside a human body…

“Producing live adverts, such as our pioneering and award-winning Cancer Research UK advert (broadcast from inside a human bowel), has many inherent stumbling blocks. It was thanks to the dedication and attention-to-detail of the hard-working team at Clearcast that clearance for daytime television wasn't one of them. Your on-site expertise, assistance and reassurance were absolutely invaluable, ensuring that our ambitious and important advert was smoothly delivered from the human digestive system, directly into the advertising break just before A Place In The Sun.”

Find out more: Clearcast: Live and Bespoke Clearances

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