By Ben Norman
McDonalds fries dipped in milkshake? Strawberries with balsamic? Or maple syrup on bacon? Some parings just seem to work, no matter how crazy they sound (except Kit-Kat and HP Sauce if you were wondering). The best brand and programming partnerships are no different.

A few weeks ago we were simultaneously briefed by two clients to create and produce idents for ITV sponsorship deals.

Fast-forward through the frantic melee of TV production minus time and you’ll find Astonish’s sponsorship idents hugging legendary reality show TOWIE for both seasons this year, and Seabrook’s idents sat between Stephen Mulhearn’s zany on-street entertainment in this year’s series of In For A Penny.

What’s clear from the end products we’ve produced with both brands, is that the leap between product and programme, creates the opportunity to create something unforgettable.

If you flick the TV on any morning and watch the news or weather you’ll probably see the inverse of this rule in action… Rainy weather? Here’s a holiday. Early Morning? Eat Porridge. High pollen? Hayfever meds.

There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with these pairings, of course they make perfect sense. But they’re also pretty forgettable because they’re so damn obvious.

On the other hand, Boutique arranged a deal for Astonish to sponsor TOWIE which gave us a bridge to build between household cleaning and Essex-based love and lust. Whilst the deal Cheeky arranged for Seabrook to sponsor In For A Penny presented a void between everyday snacking and cheeky on-street entertainment.

For Astonish, we tapped into TOWIE’s 30 seasons worth of he said/she said dating drama to create a series of light-hearted snippets which parody the programming. Featuring Barbie-like dolls in relatable scenarios, the brand comes in through the cheeky play between TOWIE-style scripts and Astonish products props, all culminating in the end-line - ‘Clearing things up, with Astonish’.

The creative concept for Seabrook’s idents formed in a slightly different way. Having spent 5 years establishing the brand’s Brilliant by the Bagful creative platform, which celebrates British behavioural quirks through the familiar scenarios which happen right under our noses, we felt an immediate affinity with the way In For A Penny finds joy in unique characters and their reactions.

Through Seabrook’s fun and irreverent tone, the idents mimic the relatable, light-hearted comedy which has made the programme so popular, accumulating in a dry, witty observation of the great British public and their flavour choices

The power of imperfect pairings in TV sponsorship is just one iteration of a well-established creative principle… By leaving a gap between points A and B we open up space which creativity can fill.

As an industry, in the past couple of decades as we’ve become more rational and reductive, we become increasingly afraid of the gap. Many marketers have been too afraid that their audience wont ‘get it’, that they’ve filled in the blanks for them.

Leaving a gap for the creative idea to fill and the audience to work out is the reason many great ads don’t make immediate sense. It’s why the best jokes take a while to click. And, it’s why the ending of Saltburn was so rubbish.