I hate to bow to the inevitable, but I’m afraid that this week I’m
writing about Channel 5, current favourite with desperate columnists
everywhere from the Financial Times to Pig Farm Weekly.
Channel 5 has been doing rather a nice job of telling us Londoners that
it’s on its way. Virtually every Adshel sports the Channel 5 logo.
Ticket sales for Cliff Richard’s Heathcliff extravaganza are going quite
well, I’m told, thanks to a nice ad at Hammersmith Broadway which says
’Cliff, are you retuned?’.
With the first test signals for London last weekend, retuning is coming
to the capital with a vengeance. Unfortunately, the Campaign office is
already buzzing with Channel 5 disaster stories.
One Campaigner arrived home on Friday evening to find both TV and video
disabled, leaving her with no telly for the weekend. Another has spent
two days at home waiting for the Channel 5 man who never arrived. I
myself haven’t had so much as a sniff of a leaflet through my door,
though I’m sure the Channel 5 people will be very keen for some good
copy in Campaign once the channel’s up and running.
Yes, I know it’s easy knocking copy, and there are bound to be hiccups
over such an enormous task, but I can’t help thinking that Channel 5’s
strategy has gone a little awry. How difficult would it be to target the
key advertisers, agency executives, media buyers and commentators in
London to ensure that they get hassle-free retuning and a good vibe
about the channel?
Of course, we’re an insignificant proportion of the Channel 5 audience
and it’s the numbers that will count on day one, but I’m hearing so many
retuning nightmares within the ad industry that it can’t be healthy for
a channel which needs us on its side. If professional enthusiasm is
tempered by personal experience, then Channel 5 could find the
industry’s goodwill evaporating.