Transport for London (TfL) has been accused of abusing Londoners after it agreed to hand over sponsorship rights to the Tube map to IKEA for less than a similar deal almost a decade ago. MyLondon can reveal that IKEA has paid just £800,000 – around half of what a non-TfL advertising executive expects – to secure its logos on every Tube map for next year.
This compares unfavorably to 2014, when TfL sold the sponsorship rights to the Metro card to a credit card company, MBNA. The company paid around £850,000 +VAT – worth around £950,000 in today’s money – for sponsorship rights to the tube card and other TfL promotions.
IKEA’s 12-month deal gives the furniture company logo rights to:
A minimum of 2,750 Tube cards on the TfL network at rail and underground stations, DLR and coach stations and the London tram network
Brand space also hosted on PDF versions of Tube Map on TfL website
Space for brand messages on a minimum of 10 million Pocket Tube Maps each year
‘Nearest IKEA stations’ locations in London should be marked on maps with a symbol (up to a maximum of 5 stations) with the IKEA logo included on the key
Five “takeovers” of the 24-hour homepage on TFL.gov.uk during the sponsorship period
Sponsorship promotion on TfL social media and media channels
READ MORE:Crossrail: The suburban village ‘where you can get the best curry’ where Londoners flock to link up with the Elizabeth line
Speaking as a Green Party Assemblyman, London Assembly Transport Committee Chairman Sian Berry told MyLondon the finding was “concerning”. She said: “TfL is so short of money that every little bit counts. £1million could run a bus service they plan to scrap. If they sold short, that seems a bit of a shame – it suggests they’re not doing their job as well as they should.
“Obviously there is the issue of falling passenger numbers, but with the opening of the Elizabeth line we expect a big increase in demand. Many will have seen the new map. It’s expected to be at least £1m, especially with another big advertising change with the addition of the Elizabeth line.
Caroline Pidgeon AM, a member of the Liberal Democrat Assembly in London, also expressed concern that a “bad deal was made”. She said: “It’s disappointing that eight years on from a similar sponsorship deal, TfL has gotten less money, and that’s without even taking eight years of inflation into consideration. The underground has since seen the extension of the Northern line and the addition of Thameslink to the map, alongside of course the new Elizabeth line.
MyLondon recently spoke with an expert from BDS Sponsorship to get an estimate of how much this sponsorship deal will cost. CEO Richard Busby made an educated guess and predicted that IKEA would sponsor TfL in a deal worth £1.5million. Michael Hawkins, London Regional Director at IKEA UK, said: “As we create a more accessible and sustainable IKEA, we want to make it easier for our customers to visit us via public transport. Sponsoring the iconic subway map will help customers find the easiest way to reach us. »
And AM Tory and Transport Committee member Nicholas Rogers said TfL and the Mayor had sold London short: ‘I’m a big fan of using sponsorship to raise money for Transport for London, but the Mayor and TfL have a duty to maximize revenue from such deals. It’s not the first time Sadiq Khan has fallen short – just look at the farrago on the naming of the Olympic Stadium. For a cost of just £800,000, Ikea got a bargain.
“They are paying about half the amount that BDS Sponsorship CEO Richard Busby said was reasonable. Also, this is the first time that Tube Map has been sponsored under Sadiq Khan’s mayoralty. It’s millions of pounds the mayor chose not to pursue and now, when he strikes a deal, he’s being soft. It is possible that TfL’s advertising policy prevented the authority from selling sponsorship rights to higher bidders, such as gaming companies or fast food companies.
A TfL spokesperson declined to comment on the commercial issues of this piece. However, MyLondon understands the organization thinks it’s a good deal as advertising agencies cut budgets after the pandemic. Trade magazine The Drum, however, reported that last year the UK advertising market grew by 34% year-on-year, almost double what advertising bodies were expecting.
Julie Dixon, Acting Director of Customer and Revenue at TfL, said last week: “Sponsorship is a key part of TfL’s business as it generates revenue to reinvest in our transport network. This partnership of 12 month with IKEA reflects our mutual desire to encourage more travel by public transport.”
Want to get in touch? Email [email protected]
Josiah joined MyLondon as the first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, London Assembly, Met Police, Transport for London and wider London politics.
He moved from Brussels to south London in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. Originally from Cornwall, he is now also a proud Londoner. Josiah has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Times Radio, LBC and other outlets to discuss the news and general political chaos.
Want more MyLondon? Sign up to our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from London here