BBC appeals to younger viewers with irreverent iPlayer campaign

The social-first campaign features series of playful spots directed by Yousef.


The BBC has unveiled a major campaign to position iPlayer as a uniquely British competitor to global streaming giants. 

The work, by in-house agency BBC Creative, touts the service as an entertainment destination “like nowhere else”. It promotes the platform’s distinguishing features, such as its combination of live and on-demand content and its role in British popular culture. 

Eleven short-form films will roll out across social media this month, followed by a TV ad for iPlayer launching ahead of Christmas, instead of the BBC’s traditional festive film.

The spots mix craft techniques, such as 3D animation, live action, archive footage, stop motion and illustration, and feature BBC talent as well as artistic collaborators, including Smearballs, Dom Spall, Darri, Felix von Liska and Dave Packer. 

There is also a branding refresh and national out-of-home executions designed by Mirjami Qin and illustrated by Tim McDonagh, Jim Stoten and Benson Chin. 

The work was created by Fred Rodwell and directed by Yousef through Prettybird. 

“Like nowhere else” is the beginning of a long-running brand campaign that aims to promote the breadth of content available on iPlayer and attract new, younger viewers who “maybe don’t think of the BBC or iPlayer as a place for them” but are “aware of the BBC stuff that has entered into popular culture”, Helen Rhodes, executive creative director of BBC Creative, said. 

The ads have an upbeat, playful and irreverent tone, which goes against the perception some people may have of the BBC as a staid institution, Rhodes added. 

“We like the idea that we’re not taking our content that seriously – there’s some real sort of fun to be had with it,” she said. “We are part of culture, and being in constant dialogue with audiences is an interesting space to be in.”

BBC’s iPlayer attracted record-breaking viewer numbers during lockdown this year as people stayed at home: there were 570 million requests to stream programmes on iPlayer in May, up from 564 million programme requests in April, which was the platform’s previous best month on record. 

However, the service is still competing against streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, which launched in the UK in March. 

Last year, Ofcom warned that the BBC was at risk of losing a generation of potential licence-fee payers if it failed to regain the younger viewers who are "increasingly tuning out of its services".

“We’re trying to find a point of difference. This [campaign] was born out of the fact that iPlayer has both live and on-demand content, which makes it more attuned to British culture than any of the other global streaming platforms could be,” Becca Pottinger, creative director of BBC Creative, said. “We’re celebrating the crazy, unique Britishness that the platform can represent.”

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