Tombola signs 'Emmerdale' sponsorship deal

Tuesday, October 6 2009,

Bingo outlet Tombola was this evening announced as Emmerdale's new sponsor amid claims that home shopping retailer Littlewoods unexpectedly withdrew from a similar deal.

Tombola's agreement will see the company's branding on ITV1, ITV2 and ITV3, as well as ITV's online and mobile portals, from the beginning of next month until the end of January 2011.

Tombola's chief executive Phil Cronin said of the deal: "Sponsoring Emmerdale, one of ITV's leading brands, is a significant opportunity for Tombola. The show's reach, the affection in which it's held and its values of drama, fun and community make it the ideal partner for the Tombola brand. Tombola is the biggest online bingo site in the country and with this sponsorship we hope to continue to build our community of players."

ITV's sponsorship manager Bhavit Chandrani added: "Emmerdale is one of ITV's leading brands and one of the nation's favourite soaps. We are delighted to have secured Tombola as sponsors until January 2011."

On July 14, it was reported that Littlewoods had signed a two-year deal with ITV, similar to that now signed by Tombola. The home shopping giant was expected to begin its on-air endorsement from August 31, running through to August 2011, replacing the soap's former sponsor Reckitt Benckiser.

At the time, Littlewoods's then-marketing director David Inglis said that the company was "very happy to have signed this major deal".

However, an ITV spokesperson tonight confirmed to Digital Spy that Littlewoods "unexpectedly withdrew from their contract" and that the Emmerdale opportunity was "put straight back out to market".

Despite the official announcement in July, a spokeswoman for Littlewoods this evening told DS: "We can confirm that no contract was signed. We were in discussions with ITV but to the very best of my knowledge, the deal didn't go to final signature. We were very close to signing but in the end, we decided that it wasn't something that we wanted to pursue."

She added: "It's something we looked at alongside a range of other opportunities but we decided to pursue other marketing activity instead. What was released at the time was a little premature but we're delighted that Emmerdale has a sponsor."

Reckitt Benckiser opted to end its four-year deal in March following a "shift of [marketing] strategy".