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Unilever signs £200m four-year ad deal with ITV

LONDON - ITV has signed a £200m advertising deal with Unilever spanning its network of channels and lasting for four years.

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It will see Unilever promoting brands such as Persil, Flora, Lynx and Dove across ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and Men & Motors. As well as spot advertising, the deal will encompass other activity, likely to include mobile marketing, interactive television and sponsorship.

The deal is good news for ITV, which today said that it expects advertising for the first quarter to be down by 10% on last year. It also signals that Unilever remains committed to television advertising.

However, the sum it is paying is down significantly on a similar deal it signed with Carlton Communications and Granada in 2002, when it paid £320m for a four-year advertising deal -- the biggest deal in UK television history. Carlton and Granada merged at the beginning of February 2004 to form ITV plc.

Nigel Cowlin, Unilever's head of media and communication in the UK and Ireland, said: "ITV is unique in its ability to deliver mass audiences in an increasingly fragmented market.

"Advertising on ITV enables us to concentrate our resources behind our focused portfolio of leading brands using the power of television.

"Television will continue to have a vital role to play in the 360-degree plans for our brands."

Unilever and ITV have a history dating back to the very first commercial television broadcast in the UK in 1955. It booked the first ad spot ever shown, promoting Gibbs SR toothpaste. Fifty years later it became the first advertiser to appear on male-orientated channel ITV4.

Simon Lent, ITV sales director, said: "This is a real vote of confidence in ITV as the most powerful medium for reaching large audiences swiftly and effectively."

The deal was negotiated by: Ilker Shakir and Colin Prankard at MindShare, Unilever's UK media agency; Richard Brooke, Unilever's media negotiations manager; and Simon Lent and Simon Orpin at ITV Sales.

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