Stop Press! Hold the front page! BBC in 'secret advertising deal' with Berghaus – that was sort of the story in yesterday's Telegraph.
Apparently the BBC's presenters are on backhanders from Berghaus to wear their kit on telly. Or not. The basis of the Telegraph story was that a lot of BBC folk seem to don Berghaus branded kit in inclement weather and not only that, the BBC buys Berghaus stuff at a 45% discount over the normal retail price.
Which on the face of it looks slightly iffy for a publically-funded broadcasting organisation. But actually, a 45% discount is pretty much a trade price deal, which is routine – it presumably means Berghaus is supplying the BBC with kit at much the same rates as it would to an outdoors shop or any other bulk buyer. It doesn't cost the brand anything. The company is being paid the same amount for its clothing as it would be by a retailer.
And what about BBC employees being able to buy their own Berghaus clothing at 45% off? It doesn't take a genius to work out that the corporation is just passing on the deal they get direct from Berghaus.
Which in any other industry would be no big deal. Of course the BBC is different, but you can imagine the outcry if the Beeb weren't getting advantageous deals on outdoor clothing, 'BBC wastes licence payers' money paying through the nose for outdoor kit!'
It's not even a new story. Way back in March of the year, Berghaus ran a short, to the point, statement on its web site which begins:
'No sponsorship deal exists between the BBC and Berghaus (or any brand) as this would break the BBC’s editorial guidelines.'
The Bigger Picture
It'd be naïve to assert that Berghaus supplies the BBC without hoping for some form of TV exposure, but that's the name of the PR game. Guess what, it's actually pretty much routine for outdoor brands to be approached by TV presenters – not BBC ones, that's not allowed – asking for freebies.
And PR people are often more than happy to oblige – it's a no-brainer. Throw a few bits of product at a reality TV programme that, say, pits the members of a boy band against the North Face of the Eiger – that's my idea, TV researchers if you're reading this – and you stand to get hours of product placement on prime time TV. More maybe if it all goes horribly wrong...
Of course the BBC is different. It's not allowed to accept incentives for product placement and rightly so, you might say. And you can make a fairly reasonable assumption that Berghaus isn't the only brand offering trade rates to the corporation.
So really, it's not much of a story. Or if it is, the story is maybe just that if the BBC wants to stay squeaky clean, then perhaps it should simply cover up all brand logos on presenters' apparel and equipment?
I dunno, scandals, just aren't what they used to be. And no, I didn't say 'sandals' and mine are unbranded thank you very much.