Adwatch Review: Sky Arts, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 10:00AM

LONDON - LONDON - Carl Ratcliff, planning director of MCBD, reviews the Sky Arts TV commercial which had the seventeenth highest recall with the public in the weekly Adwatch ranking for 14 October

Sky Arts

Sky Arts

There's an old rule in broadcast marketing: content builds brand. Exposure drives expectation; expec-tation drives exposure. And so it goes. It's this faith in content that makes most channel marketers wary when it comes to playing out a brand story.

Established wisdom yells that the 'sell' should never get in the way of the 'tell'. Yet, what happens when the old model falters, when you build great schedules and programmes, but still no one comes?

No one comes because they didn't know or didn't want to know you were on, for myriad reasons. In this context, and with reduced budget, marketing remains charged with capturing young, upmarket eyeballs, and, no matter what the boardroom says, volume of profile reigns over profile alone.

The role of marketing changes. Now, it has to work harder; play differently, in a fashion that disregards the classic textbook response: talent first; story second; logo third. But, different how?

Well, let's have a look at this latest Sky Arts spot. To what extent does it shake up the old maxim? And, more importantly, feed the brand?

It features Derek Watkins, a trumpet professor. He's solid, a session musician of note, who gently sells you the latest instalment of Sky's Style & Culture Pack. All's well, although his sell creaks a little when it comes to 'diversity' and 'cost'.

None-theless, I don't mind it, and I suspect it will contribute well to a business in its rapacious final quarter; one that's churn-reticent and keen to deliver messages that chime more firmly with an endurance-seeking brand.

Historically, elements of Sky tell their story with simple brilliance - their vanguard role told through and by craft. And why not? HD, for instance, is a genuine revolution for viewers' eyes. Meanwhile, Sky's Network should - in theory - evidence and frame this craft.

In this instance, the creative plugs relatively well. Endorsements are a classic bedrock for communication; indeed, Sky is rather fond of them - remember Kelly Brook?

Given Sky Arts' audience and aperture, this testimonial could have been pushed further still, to really exploit 'Believe in better'. But, Christmas - or, rather, end of year - is coming, so it's import-ant to not rock the boat. The sound-track and setting, at the Abbey Road studios, illustrate the 'stroke, don't bite' approach.

Remember that channel marketing faces restrictive context, given explicit controller and commercial diktat. Outside of creative services, many are disinterested in the craft or nuance of 'sell'. 'Where's my poster/trail?' goes the rallying cry. 'Brand' remains a murky, misunderstood word.

In such narrow margins, then, this film isn't bad at all. Not gold, but not lead either.

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