Media Lifeline: UKTV

How the archive channel tried to shake off its fusty, rather lacklustre image, with some success.

February 2007: The former adman David Abraham joins UKTV as the chief executive, succeeding Dick Emery. UKTV, a family of channels run as a joint venture between the BBC and Virgin Media, performed solidly under Emery. Abraham promises a shake-up.

October 2007: The UKTV channel brand portfolio is somewhat dull, with generic names such as Food, History, Style and Drama. Abraham's first major initiative is to relaunch UKTV G2, a rather lacklustre channel recycling tired, old BBC shows that had already been recycled on UKTV Gold. Abraham rebrands it as Dave (because "everyone knows a bloke called Dave") complete with a catchy slogan: "The home of witty banter."

November 2007: And the effect is almost instantaneous as Dave's audience share leaps, thanks not just to its rebranding but also its prominent availability on Freeview. Its most popular programmes are reruns of Top Gear and QI, the intellectual quiz show hosted by Stephen Fry. It becomes the tenth-largest TV channel in the UK, with an audience share regularly above 1 per cent.

April 2008: UKTV shocks entertainment when it announces that it has poached the biggest double act in daytime TV - Richard and Judy - from Channel 4. It reveals it will launch a new channel in the autumn to showcase Richard and Judy's show and will rebrand Gold and Drama.

September 2008: Now it unveils those brands and their schedules. The new channel (featuring Richard and Judy's New Position at 8pm each day) will be called Watch - a rather brusque (and perhaps needy) imperative if ever there was one. Drama is rebranded as Alibi to reflect its absence from the principal scene of action at the vital moment in time; while Gold is spelled out as G.O.L.D. to reflect the inherent intelligence of its audience.

Fast forward ...

January 2009: Now Abraham decides to instigate a more fundamental corporate rebranding - and calls in the veteran advertising creative guru Trevor Beattie to help. Beattie proposes an honest approach to the challenges facing the company during the downturn and suggests a characteristically deft re-ordering of the u, the k, the t, and the v to produce vukt.

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