New ad rules speak volumes
RTE has agreed to comply with new volume guidelines for TV commercials (TVCs). The powers that be in the UK changed the specification in how broadcasters should accept copy for TVCs by producing new volume guidelines. The new spec created problems as RTE wanted to stick with the tried and trusted 12 frames mute option.
RTE head of operations, Paul Mulligan, says that from the tests they conducted they found 12 frames ensures higher quality as it means ads stand out from one another better. But Mulligan accepts that most advertisers appear to prefer the new spec of six frames mute and says the national broadcaster is willing to comply.
Emer Sands, who owns the Avenue 33 sound studio, says the contentious issue of 12 frames mute topping and tailing ads appears to have been sorted. The new spec means no 'key audio', such as the use of an actor's voice in an ad, can show up in the first or last 12 frames. The first and last six frames must be completely silent.
Any white noise is rejected by the sound meter used by IMD Adsat, which distributes digital ad copy to broadcasters. The change gives advertisers an extra quarter second, so they get more bang for their buck. As regards ensuring TVCs and promos are broadcast at the same sound level as the programmes, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) promotes a more sophisticated sound metering system known as R128.
Up to now, a mix at the right digital level could mean one ad might seem louder on air than another, simply due to the sound content and tone used. R128 tries to overcome the sound difference hurdle by making everything sound uniform. While RTE requires all TV ads to comply with the R128 system, they only recommend it for programmes already within spec.
Content created in-house by RTE does not have to be R128 compliant. As RTE historically saw promos as competing with TV ads, promos produced in-house didn't have to comply. But RTE plans to monitor how promo volumes compare to TV ads and programmes. If they find there are major variations in volume outputs, they may make promos compliant. TG4 and UTV Ireland already comply with R128. While TV3 is reviewing it, it has no definite date for implementing it.
* While Wexford tourism interests may bemoan the county's near exclusion from Fáilte Ireland's new Ancient East tourism route, the sunny south east could do with welcoming back the talents of a local man now in Germany. Barry McKeon, inset, has worked as a guide with Insider Tour Berlin for the past six years - and one able tour guide he is too. McKeon presides over various tours in the German capital and goes to endless lengths to explain to visitors Berlin's complex but fascinating history, architecture and top attractions. With a degree in law and French, he is also part of Berlin's budding English-language comedy scene, as he strives towards a master's in European sociology.
* Support for rugby appears to be paying off for Diageo as Guinness comes out on top in the year's first sponsorship quarterly report by the Onside agency. Guinness has most resonance with consumers, thanks to its ties with the Ireland team in the Six Nations, along with title sponsor RBS/Ulster Bank and Aviva. Guinness is also the lead sponsor for the PRO12 club competition. With three in every four deals involving sport, events like the Dubai Duty Free's title support for the Irish Open golf and AIB replacing GAAGo in the GAA senior football championships saw a forward momentum in the first three months. Other top sponsors include Bank of Ireland, Coca-Cola, Heineken, SuperValu and Vodafone.
* KBC Bank has completed a review of its media planning and buying services. Core Media's Mediaworks has retained the account after a three-way pitch with Vizeum and Mindshare. The review was handled by Claire Cluskey's pitch doctor consultancy Empirica and Purchasing Solutions, working with the bank's director of marketing Aidan Power and executives Caroline Donnellan and Dee Currid. The Belgian-owned bank uses Dutch agency KesselsKramer and its London office for its creative ad services.
* The current issue of 'Hot Press' is worth every cent of the €3.50 cover price for the tributes paid to journalist George Byrne, who died recently. Liam Mackey leads the salutes with a piece entitled 'Thinkin' Bout Glory Days'. Declan Lynch, Eamon Carr and Fiona Looney are among others who remember Byrne with affection - but minus the maudlin. Just as the man who lived for music and football would have wanted it.
Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie: firstname.lastname@example.org