CAMPAIGN DIRECT: MARKETING CHALLENGE; Will Channel 5’s mix ’n’ match style build a coherent brand?

Channel 5 has a national retuning task, and then it must build an on- screen brand, Robert Dwek says

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

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