Advertising and Sponsorship Policy
The borough has a population of more than 185,200, across Basingstoke itself and affluent rural towns and villages in North Hampshire.
There are around 8,000 businesses in the borough. Basingstoke’s is a young population with 20% more higher and intermediate managerial, administrative or professional households than the national average.
The borough is also headquarters to a number of world-renowned companies and venues and visitor attractions. Easy access to the M3 and M4 and major rail routes linking to London and Southampton mean that there are increasing numbers of people who live, work or travel through the borough every day.
This policy sets out the ways companies can reach these audiences to effectively market their products and services with appropriate use of council assets. It recognises the potential benefits of advertising. These include adding interest to the street scene, bringing colour and making areas safer at night through better illumination. However, it also recognises that done badly or in the wrong place, advertising can be harmful. It can result in visual clutter, obstacles to pedestrians, and hazard or distraction to road users.
The council is keen to maximise revenue from advertising, and so rather than define all specific permitted advertising, we work on the basis that advertising is permitted unless it falls into a number of prohibited categories see following section, but the council still retains the right to reject inappropriate advertising, especially where this conflicts with its priorities.
General principles for advertising and sponsoring products and services
The council encourages the involvement of the private and voluntary sectors in the sponsorship of and advertising through council assets, events or activities wherever appropriate. Sponsorship may involve the council receiving sponsorship or advertising revenue in the form of income generation, with the intention in all cases being to support the delivery of the council’s public services.
Sponsorship can be advantageous for all parties; however, the council must ensure all sponsorship and advertising agreements do not compromise or question the integrity of the council’s operations, or be associated with products or services that are inconsistent with the values or objectives of the organisation, with regard to the nature of the sponsor.
This guide is in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements)(England) Regulations 2007 and the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). In this regard, the NPPF advises that, “Advertisements should be subject to control only in the interests of amenity and public safety, taking account of cumulative impacts”. Some forms of advertising may be acceptable at certain times but not at others, for example organisations with current planning applications or contractors bidding for current tenders or organisations in financial or legal conflict with the council.
Advertising opportunities fall into two specific categories which carry the potential of different levels of reputational risk to the authority, and will therefore be treated differently:
- Section 1: Those channels which are most clearly associated with Basingstoke and Deane Council – including but not exclusively our main and associated websites, intranet, corporate and service publications, vehicles and wholly-owned outdoor sites and buildings.
- Section 2: Those channels where the council acts as landlord or operator but which may be managed for us under transparent and tendered arrangements - including but not exclusively outdoor advertising such as billboards, hoardings on our properties or land and public transport. These outlets will be subject to advertising rules which deal with the proximity of outdoor advertising to places such as schools and religious organisations.
The policy assumes that all advertising presented falls within the rules and guidelines laid down by the Advertising Standards Authority and that all advertising must comply with the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing – full details can be found at www.asa.org.uk
This policy includes the provision that marketing communications must be legal, decent, honest and truthful; must not bring advertising into disrepute; must conform to the code; and must respect the principles of fair competition.
Advertising will be subject to the Local Government Publicity Code under the Local Government Act 1986, especially the period of extra sensitivity before local or national elections, and to the Financial Services Authority.
An advertisement will not be accepted if, in the reasonable opinion of the council, it:
- is inappropriate or objectionable
- may result in the council being subject to prosecution
- promotes gambling
- promotes payday loans
- refers to tobacco or similar products
- promotes the misuse of alcohol or promotes the use of alcohol to children
- might be deemed inappropriate for children, for example, violent films
- could promote goods or services that contradict the climate change and air quality strategy for examples promotion of fossil fuels
- appears to influence support for a political party or candidate
- appears to conflict with the council’s wider promotion of healthy and active lifestyles
- appears to promote racial or sexual discrimination, or discrimination on the basis of disability, faith, gender, sexual orientation or age
- is the subject of a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority and upheld by such authority as a legitimate complaint.
The above list is not exhaustive, and the council retains the right to refuse advertising on the grounds that, in the council’s opinion, it is inappropriate, or it conflicts with services already provided by the organisation.
Commercial policy considerations
The council will not permit any sponsorship or advertising that represents a conflict of interest or is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. There should be no real or apparent conflict between the objectives and community goals of the council and those of the advertiser or sponsor.
The council needs to ensure that the offering of different pricing strategies or discounts does not constitute financial aid. The council will seek appropriate advice and clearance from the Head of Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer and the Executive Director of Corporate Services (S151 Officer) or delegated officers.
Sponsorship and advertising agreements must include a statement that the council’s functions will continue to be carried out fully and impartially, notwithstanding the existence of a sponsorship arrangement.
Any commercial agreement will include a statement to the effect that any attempted influence on the council’s regulatory functions will result in an automatic review and/or termination of the sponsorship agreement.
Agreements are formed with regard to public accountability and transparency with clear statements of objectives and benefits. The reasons for accepting sponsorship and advertising or offers of a partnership with an agency must be openly clarified by the council. The agreement of sponsorship must clearly provide suitable provisions to deal with issues, which could include termination or suspension of the sponsorship agreement until the matter is resolved.
It is expected that any individual or organisation entering into, or already in, a sponsorship or advertising agreement with the council will disclose whether there is a current planning application or planning matter relating to them, or if the individual or organisation is involved in any current dispute with the council.
Agreements can be terminated by Basingstoke and Deane Council if conditions of this policy are not met.
Acceptance of advertising or sponsorship does not imply any endorsement of the sponsor’s products or services by the council. This must be stated in any council publication that carries advertising.
Conflict of interest
Council officers and councillors are required to declare in advance if they have any personal interests, involvement or potential conflict of interest with any potential advertiser or sponsor. In the event of a potential conflict of interest, that officer or councillor will take no part in the consideration of sponsorship or advertising with that particular organisation.
This policy will be subject to an annual review.
Public accountability and reporting
The council is committed to principles of open government and of public accountability, transparency and accessibility.
To meet these objectives, the council agrees that:
- sponsorship and advertising agreements must be in the form of written agreement;
- the council’s Sponsorship and Advertising Policy is publicly available and listed on the council’s website;
- a public register of sponsorship and advertising agreements is maintained by the council.
Advertising is a form of communication used to raise awareness, encourage or persuade an audience - viewers, readers or listeners or a specific group of people – to do or believe something. Advertising messages can take a variety of forms and can be viewed via a variety of traditional and digital media, for example, publications, outdoor advertising, direct mail and websites. A person who consumes advertising is anyone who is likely to receive a given marketing communication, whether in the course of business or not.
Sponsorship can be defined as “a business relationship of mutual benefit involving the transference of funds, resources or services from the sponsor to the sponsored party in return for an association which is to the mutual satisfaction of both parties”.
To sponsor something is to support an asset, event, activity, person, or organisation financially or by providing products or services. It should be mutually beneficial. Sponsorship provides the association of a sponsor’s name with council assets, events or activities. It can be particularly attractive in terms of the opportunities for media coverage and as a display of support for public services. Sponsorship can help make the most of the commercial potential of the council’s tangible and non-tangible assets, allowing more productive use of existing resources and, potentially, generate an income for the council to help reduce budgetary pressures.