Channel 5 is shifting away from its traditional media strategy as it launches a pounds 4 million press and poster campaign aimed at boosting its peaktime audience figures.
The broadcaster's media spend has, traditionally, been spread across the entire autumn TV season. This year, however, Channel 5 is pouring most of its budget into a concentrated October drive aimed at building primetime audience share up towards the 10 per cent mark.
'We're trying to build a brand,' Channel 5's deputy marketing director, David Bainbridge, said. 'Ideally, we'd like to be on telly, but that's simply not feasible with our budgets. We felt the best way of breaking through to the maximum number of people was to concentrate our spend into a month, when we would never be out of people's faces.'
The latest campaign, which is through Walsh Trott Chick Smith, will have a strong central motif beyond the consistent swipes at opposing channels and public figures. The executions will feature photographs of celebrities all wearing graffiti cartoon smiles after watching their favourite Channel 5 programmes.
Margaret Thatcher is shown with a grin alongside the message: 'She's just watched Xena, Warrior Princess on 5.' Bill Clinton appears in the 'Miss World' ad while Keith Chegwin, who famously flashed his meagre manhood on the channel's Naked Safari earlier this year, advertises Where's Willie?.
A Picasso execution shows the artist with a grin drawn across his forehead.
A poster for the film Boogie Nights shows several spermatozoa smiling as they swim along.
Channel 5 was the only terrestrial channel to report an increase in viewers from 1997 to 1999, increasing its share from 2.9 to 5.4 per cent.
However, the arrival of the Pearson TV chief executive, Richard Eyre, has increased pressure on the broadcaster to move away from its smutty, downmarket image and build audience numbers quickly.
'Creatively, our strategy has not changed,' Walsh Trott's managing director, Keir Cooper, said.
'It's about projecting the channel's ballsy and irreverent personality.'
The ads were written by Dave Trott and art directed by Gordon Smith, although five teams at the agency also worked on various executions. Media planning and buying is by Walker Media.