Freeview is aiming for greater emotional resonance in a new campaign launching this evening that features references to no fewer than 27 TV shows.
Created by Anomaly, "Free Love Freeway" is soundtracked by the song of the same name written by Ricky Gervais in a full band version recorded for David Brent: Life on the Road. It first featured in The Office.
The 60-second film, which debuts simultaneously during Vanity Fair on ITV and Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls on Channel 4, depicts a vintage car driving through a Route 66-esque landscape, passing by all manner of people and things that refer to programmes from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and other broadcasters.
Shows include Peaky Blinders, The Crystal Maze, Planet Earth, The X Factor, Gogglebox, Thomas the Tank Engine, Strictly Come Dancing, Match of the Day and Love Island.
Filmed in South Africa, the campaign was directed by Scott Lyon through Outsider, while Freeview’s media agency, Hearts & Science, brokered the TV spots. Freeview is gifted airtime by ITV and Channel 4, which own the service along with the BBC, Sky and Arqiva. Both ITV and Channel 4 created introduction messages that are being shown before the first airing of the spot this evening.
The initial creative will be followed by 20-second spots that focus on the features of Freeview Play, the platform that incorporates both free-to-air and paid streaming services into new TV sets. For the first time, Freeview has also formed contra deals with retailers and TV manufacturers that offer Freeview Play, and will feature both in some of its executions.
The campaign replaces "The other way", which launched in 2016 and featured a huge variety of voiceover messages – many programme-specific, and some broadcast live – over the top of abstract visuals.
Speaking to Campaign, Freeview’s marketing director, Owen Jenkinson, said that campaign had driven awareness of Freeview Play to the point where the platform is on around 60% of TVs sold – but that the brand now wanted to build more of an emotional connection with consumers.
"Emotive telly ads are still the best way to build brands," he said. "Our new 60-second spot is a fun, energetic and vibrant celebration of the best known and most loved shows on Freeview."
Freeview was aiming to position itself as a "people’s champion", Jenkinson added, pointing to its recent social media activity during the dispute between Virgin Media and UKTV, which has five channels on Freeview, including Dave and Drama.