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Friday 20 April 2018

New TV licence fine ads dumped after name change... replacements paid out of TV licence fee

Whose tubs? A minor furore in RTÉ over a fictional hot-tub company

(L to R) Ray D'Arcy, Miriam O'Callaghan and Ryan Tubridy
(L to R) Ray D'Arcy, Miriam O'Callaghan and Ryan Tubridy
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

NEW advertisements urging people to pay their TV licence fee were required after the Government department responsible re-branded... but the new ads were paid for out of the licence fee.

The new ads, rolled out last year, were required after the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Energy (DCCAE) was re-named. It was formerly known as the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR).

In an email dated August 8, released to Independent.ie, Anne Faulker – an RTÉ staff member working in TV licence marketing – advised a number of people that the ads "have also been produced recently - the TV went on air 10th June and so they are not close to replacement in their life-cycle unfortunately".

Ms Faulkner was tasked with confirming the costs of updating the ads with the department's new name and logo at a meeting of the TV licence operational forum in July.

Mary Mooney, an assistant principal in the DCCAE, advised RTÉ to make the changes but said:

"The cost will have to be met from the TV licence monies as there is no separate budget available for re-branding".

The RTE campus at Montrose
The RTE campus at Montrose

However, it was in the detail of the ad scripts where an issue relating to business names emerged, leading to a bizarre exchange between officials.

Radio ads were designed to sound, at first, like ads for luxury goods including hot tubs.

In one of the ads, the original ad script read:

"From lounging on a laz-e boy or curling up on a chaise long to wallowing on a waterbed, until you've hung out in one of Harry's Hot Tubs, you've never known luxury like it...

"Like bathing in a sea of champagne bubbles or stretching out on silk sheets why not redefine relaxation and give your lifestyle a little sparkle of luxury at Harry's Hot Tubs on the Dublin Road."

The fake ad was then scripted to be interrupted by a message reminding listeners that there are "better ways to blow €1,000" than paying a TV licence fine.

But RTÉ marketing director, Lucy Campbell, urged caution on the name Harry's Hot Tubs due to a company of the same name operating in Essex in the UK.

Mary Mooney, an assistance principal with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Energy said, in an email on September 28 2016:

"As there is a business on the Dublin Road in Cavan called Harry's I would go further than Lucy and say I cannot approve that scropt as it has the potential to expose us to complaints".

Anne Faulkner, who works in RTE, was then forced to ask her team to search for a new name for the fictional company suggesting "Hugh's hot tubs.?!".

By that evening the agency had proposed "Terry's Hot Tubs" - which all parties were happy to agree to.

While sending scripts for approval Ms Faulkner noted that it was "expensive" to have copy updated and asked that requests for changes only be made if the change related to a "deal breaker".

However, details of the costs involved with re-making the ads (one television ad and four radio ads) were redacted from the emails by the DCCAE Freedom of Information officer due to "commercial sensitivity".

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