Bespoke 'European brand hub' launches Sky's biggest-ever campaign

The major campaign enabled Sky to reconfigure how its in-house agency functions, evolving Sky Creative into a European brand hub that pools all its external partners.

The first phase, “The spell”, will simply focus on spelling out what Sky Glass is
The first phase, “The spell”, will simply focus on spelling out what Sky Glass is

It has been a big week for Sky. First, it ditched the satellite dish in lieu of a streaming-enabled television set, Sky Glass. Now, it has embarked on its biggest marketing campaign to date, to support the launch of the TV. 

Simon Buglione, Sky’s managing director brand and creative, tells Campaign that the “Made of magic” campaign was inspired by futurist Arthur C Clarke’s third law, which claims: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” 

“That got us thinking that magic is a really rich theme,” he says. “The brand represents the magic of streaming and that we don’t need a satellite dish any more, so magic is the overriding creative thought.” 

Buglione refers to the launch of Sky Glass as “probably the biggest moment for our company since the satellites first went up”. 

A total revaluation of its product offering, the Sky Glass includes voice activation and a built-in video chat function. The device brings together different streaming services, with shows from platforms such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime all hosted on one interface. 

Spelling it out 

This is why the first phase of its colossal campaign, “The spell”, which breaks today (8 October), will focus simply on spelling out its major step change. 

The spot, which shows the new TV up close, backed by an informative voiceover, features a track from Griff, who won the rising star award at this year's BRIT Awards. The creative team behind the campaign were Jack Brodie and Andreas Karmiotis at AKQA.

In the first three-week period, the activity aims to deliver 1.3 billion out-of-home impressions and an 86% share of voice. The campaign also includes a first cover wrap for The Times newspaper and Helena Bonham Carter-voiced radio ads.

“We show televisions all day long in our marketing. We have done for years,” Buglione says. “We had to make sure that people do not misunderstand that Sky now makes TVs. 'The spell' is about making it really clear that Sky is now inside the telly. There is no dish, no box, no fuss.”

While “The spell” is product-focused, it will be followed in a couple of weeks by the next phase of the campaign, “The wizard”, which will be character-driven.

“We’ll add more depth around the concepts,” Buglione says. “We don’t want to overwhelm everyone with loads of messaging until they’ve understood that we’ve made a TV.”

Over the next three months, the "Made of magic” campaign aims to reach more than 99% of UK adults. 

A new European hub

Beyond the breadth and scale of the campaign, Buglione points out that “Made of magic” is different from Sky’s previous work because it was created by a bespoke brand hub. The hub amalgamates the broadcaster's in-house team Sky Creative, Venturethree and AKQA.

The hub marks a major change in Sky’s approach. It is rethinking how Sky Creative, which it believes is the largest in-house creative advertising team in Europe, will function in future. 

“The original brief asked: how do we create a campaign that spans a product launch, a retail experience and encompasses retail technology?" Buglione says.

"I felt we needed a fundamentally different approach, so we created a hub and tied together all our internal and external agencies into one community. What’s different with this project is the brand, the advertising, and the retail experience all evolved together.”

From now on, Sky will work from this European hub, which contains all its capabilities in one ecosystem.

“The idea of pulling in different expertise from multiple agencies at different times is a fundamental part of the hub model,” Buglione adds. “Our in-house capability is really important to us. It still forms the main part of what Sky Creative is and what the hub will be.

“But the idea of pulling together in different agencies is quite liberating. One central hub where we make sure the brand is consistent across all our touchpoints, now and for the future, is going to be fundamental to running a big brand in the years to come.”

As Sky looks beyond the Sky Glass launch, Buglione hopes this will mark a new way of working. 

“I want to spend the next few years advocating the idea of hubs,” he says. “Having reached an in-house maturity, we can use that as a foundation for a hub model.”