Freeview changes direction with £15m ad campaign

Freeview is overhauling its TV presence with a £15m campaign, titled "The other way", which will see 300 executions aired over the course of the next 12 months.

Launching on 1 October, the ten- and 20-second spots are designed to permeate the TV viewing experience and to feel more like idents than ads. They consist of simple visuals with a voiceover by Cold Feet and Downton Abbey star Robert Bathurst. 

The voiceover will refer to the content of the programmes the ads are shown around, such as plot points and subjects featured in particular episodes, thanks to Freeview’s access to scripts from its channel partners.

The campaign is the first work for Freeview by Anomaly since the agency won the account in April. It marks a major change of approach from the highly produced 60-second-plus spots made by the previous creative agency, Leo Burnett London. 

Freeview marketing director Owen Jenkinson said Leo Burnett’s work had not managed to "educate" consumers as effectively as hoped.

The voiceovers will reinforce Freeview’s positioning as "the other way to watch TV" alongside paid-for services and reference topical events such as sports tournaments and the US presidential election. 

Several spots will highlight the year-old platform Freeview Play, which offers catch-up services from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and UKTV.

An early ad discusses the dilemma of whether to watch Strictly Come Dancing or The X Factor, reminding viewers that they can watch one show live and the other on catch-up.

The voiceovers accompany five different visuals, consisting of a bird’s eye view of a crowd of people – in the Freeview brand colours of red, orange and purple – performing various abstract movements. 

The ads will run on all ITV, Channel 4 and UKTV channels.

Jenkinson told Campaign that the work was designed with the  starting point that paid-for TV was the norm for many households who often did not consider Freeview as an alternative. 

The campaign was created by Oli Beale and Alex Holder, and directed by Grant Gilbert through DBLG. 

Media planning and buying is handled by MEC.

Jenkinson said: "Freeview is so intrinsically linked to the digital switchover that there’s a bunch of Sky and Virgin homes that just don’t know what the hell it is. 

"So the big job we’ve got to do is around salience and education because, once people understand it, it becomes a really interesting alternative to pay-TV."

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