Media: Lifeline - Five's marketing

The channel's new idents continue its shift towards subtler, less in-your-face branding.

1997: Mother and the Spice Girls (five band members, you see) are signed up for the launch of Channel 5. The idents are in cyan, orange, magenta, yellow and lime green. The Channel 5 boss, David Elstein, says this unrestrained palette proves it is a "modern" channel.

1998: The launch marketing team of David Brook and Polly Cochrane has departed. Their successor, Jim Hytner, drops Mother. The channel now begins to take a more tactical route in its marketing but keeps its edge by courting controversy in its newspaper ads. For instance, one execution attempts to reignite a row between the England football team manager, Glenn Hoddle, and the player Alan Shearer.

2001: Having appointed Walsh Trott Chick Smith as its agency, Channel 5 launches marketing initiatives that focus on the more popular aspects of its programming. Its blitz punting Home and Away is the biggest ever campaign in support of a single programme in UK television history. Channel 5 sources say it's time to let the product speak for itself - it no longer needs to be outrageous to capture attention.

2002: Channel 5, now controlled by the European broadcasting powerhouse RTL, hands its account to TBWA\London. The strategy is to move away from the brashness of its heritage in "fucking and football" - it relaunches as "five" plain and simple, with a restrained on-screen logo, featuring the word rather than the "5" numeral. Its advertising for the Michael Jackson's Face programme attracts dozens of column inches.

Now: As it puts its account up for pitch (TBWA declines to take part), five launches a new set of idents, which make enigmatic statements about some of the basic human emotions. For instance, one features the word "love" being pestered by a spermatozoon.

Fast forward ...

2007: To commemorate its tenth year in showbusiness, five reappoints the original launch team at Mother to work on a one-off anniversary campaign. It also commissions a new set of idents featuring a reunited line-up of the Spice Girls. These are cheeky, yet still play, in a sophisticated fashion, on themes relating to the fundamental human emotions. One execution features Victoria Beckham being menaced by a giant spermatozoon.

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