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Whose brand is it anyway?

20 February 2012

Update - April 2013

On 5 April TfL wrote to the Chair of the Committee with a copy of its draft sponsorship policy, which it produced following the Committee’s investigation and report.  The policy will be followed by a sponsorship strategy, operational guidelines and a standard sponsorship contract.  These documents will apply to TfL and the core GLA, although not to other parts of the GLA Group, such as the London Legacy Development Corporation.

TfL’s Commercial Development Director, Graeme Craig, appeared before the Committee on 16 April to discuss TfL’s approach to sponsorship, and told the Committee that all the documents would be ready in autumn 2013. 

The Committee is pleased that TfL has responded positively to its report, is taking steps to act on the recommendations, and appears keen to adopt a new culture of transparency for future sponsorship contracts.  The Committee will continue to monitor developments, and will review the full suite of sponsorship documents when they are available.

Update - July 2012

Following the announcement that Barclay Bank was to be fined £250m for fixing the Libor inter-bank lending rate, the Chair of the Committee wrote to the Mayor requesting an urgent in principle response to the Committee's recommendations and asking the Mayor to explore options for publishing the cycle hire contract with Barclays.

The Mayor's response says the following:

  • TfL will agree a sponsorship policy by around October, at which point it will be shared with the Committee - this would satisfy the Committee recommendation that such a policy should be developed by the end of 2012
  • The Mayor endorses in principle the Committee's recommendations about the contents of the policy
  • He has asked Barclays and TfL to work together to see what elements of the cycle hire contract can be published
  • He has asked TfL to liaise with unsuccessful bidders with the aim of getting agreement to publish the size of their bids

Our report

The report recognises sponsorship deals – like those for the cable car and Barclays cycle hire scheme – create an opportunity to bring in extra investment for new transport infrastructure, but highlights the potential ethical and reputational risks to TfL.

The Committee notes there are signs TfL now recognises it got it wrong in the past, having changed its sponsorship policy following criticism of its deal with high interest payday loans company Wonga.  A lack of transparency has also fuelled public speculation and criticism of sponsorship deals with Barclays and Emirates.  

So Londoners can be confident they are getting the best deal in the future, the report calls on TfL to conduct deals in the open and show it can effectively manage both the benefits and risks of using private sponsorship to fund projects. 

Our recommendations:

We want TfL to demonstrate a commitment to a more robust approach, including conducting deals in the open and showing it can effectively manage both the benefits and risks of using private sponsorship to fund projects. 

TfL has committed to producing a new single policy, to being clearer in future about the types of companies it is willing to work with and to being more transparent. Our recommendations are intended to inform this new policy before TfL enters into any further arrangements.

Watch a short video about our report: