Channel 5 has a national retuning task, and then it must build an on-
screen brand, Robert Dwek says
‘We have a golden opportunity to create the first modern TV brand,’
David Brook, the marketing director of Channel 5, declares. It’s early
days yet, with the retuning campaign running late, and the start of
programming delayed until Easter 1997, but Brook is confident his
branding ambitions will be realised.
He contrasts his strategy with the launch of Channel 4, which did not
launch as a fully fledged brand, commenting: ‘It had a very specific,
minority remit. It wasn’t informed by consumer marketing disciplines.’
Channel 5, it goes without saying, will be.
For the moment, however, Channel 5 remains very much off-screen. Its
current campaign has to serve a difficult dual purpose: to inform
millions of people that their video recorders must be retuned and,
simultaneously, to build sturdy foundations for the on-screen brand
without giving too much away.
The answer to this dilemma, Brook says, is integration. All the elements
of the campaign must be instantly recognisable as part of a larger
whole. ‘We needed a communications campaign that could extend into our
operational side, right down to the uniforms of our retuners,’ he
explains. ‘We needed to cut through any potential confusion and make an
But instead of going to a single agency, Brook decided that it was
better to mix and match.
So, while Channel 5 has been handling all the PR internally, Saatchi and
Saatchi and Wolff Olins, the corporate identity specialist behind the
revamped BT and Orange, worked together to produce direct mail packs,
logos, slogans, posters and press ads. Ask ‘who did what?’ and you won’t
get a clear answer (apart from the uncontentious media buying, which is
being handled by TMD Carat).
But Brook warns clients considering a similar agency arrangement that it
‘places an onus on the client. You need to control, manage and direct
your brand, but it’s not so different from dealing with media buyers as
a separate entity from ad agencies.’
The results, so far, look promising. Channel 5’s tracking studies show
up to 96 per cent overall awareness of the name, with 83 per cent
awareness of the need to retune. And more than 90 per cent of the
roughly ten million households direct mailed have followed instructions
and retained the mail-pack.
Brook praises the integrated design of the pack, which features the same
colours and the ‘give me 5’ slogan that has been seen on posters, bus-
sides, in newspapers, magazines and TV guides.
‘This has been a classic awareness campaign,’ Brook says. ‘It has
generated in people a positive desire to co-operate with us. After all,
we’re not asking them to buy anything from us, just to know that we
exist and to give a favourable first impression.’
Brook hopes Channel 5 is coming across as a modern, state-of-the-art
programmer seeking a broad audience. But while there is no question of
creating a second brand for the launch campaign, he can’t reveal any
details yet, except that the on-screen identity will mean a ‘more 3D
Has there been much resistance to all this enthusiastic branding? ‘A
minority of people are not being co-operative on the retuning work, but,
generally, people are happy to have another free service,’ Brook claims.
He asserts that the launch date has been delayed only once and
speculation has made the delay seem worse.
Perhaps, but there is at least one hint that all has not been as smooth
as it might have been. A source at Saatchis tells of 20-hour days
producing work that was constantly rejected by the client, with the
result that the agency is not repitching for the launch campaign. Adam
Crozier, the joint chief executive of the agency, dismisses this, saying
his agency never planned to work on the next phase.
He praises those involved for running the retuning campaign ‘like a task
force’, with collaborative weekly meetings. And, he adds, there are ‘at
least half-a-dozen clients’ where Saatchis works jointly with other
agencies to supply an integrated message.
Jeanie Bergin, a consultant at Wolff Olins, believes agency labels are
increasingly irrelevant. ‘It’s not the name of the company that affects
the work it does,’ she argues. ‘It’s much more about getting a team of
people together and allowing ideas to come through with equal validity.’
Nevertheless, she takes credit, on behalf of Wolff Olins, for the
colour bars (‘brighter colours than usual to emphasise a brighter kind
of TV’) and the ‘give me 5’ slogan (‘creating a dialogue with the
Sally Osman, Channel 5’s in-house PR, says Wolff Olins also produced the
direct mail, posters and partnership promotions (such as the one run in
Blockbuster Video shops).
But this is starting to sound divisive, which Brook would not want.
Suffice it to say that, unlike Crozier, Bergin is ‘looking forward to
the next chapter’ in the Channel 5 story.
Press launch 29 July
Poster sites 3,000
Point-of-sale Promotions in Granada, Thorn and Blockbuster Videos
Mail-shots Sent out to 9.6 million homes, with a further three million
due to go out
Press Local and national ads from September, including ads in TV listing
guides and supplements