Media: Strategy Analysis - ITV uses monsters to tempt viewers

Brand: Primeval (ITV1)
Client: ITV
Brief: Launch ITV1's first-ever Saturday evening action-adventure drama
Target audience: "Ambitious fun-lovers" (identified by ITV's consumer
segmentation), lighter viewers and opinion formers
Budget: Undisclosed

Media: MindShare
Creative: M&C Saatchi, ITV Creative, Play


It's quite possible you're reading this on a busy Tube on your way to, or from, work. Imagine the train screeching to a halt in the middle of a dark tunnel. The window pane in between the carriages slides down, and a giant spider's leg pokes through to attack passengers. ITV1's Saturday night action-adventure drama, Primeval, had this exact storyline. But it appeared in the second episode of the series and the traditional model was to drive viewers to the first episode and rely on the strength of the content to create loyalty.

ITV's marketing strategy wants to shake audiences' perceptions of the network by supporting fewer, more impactful programmes that reflect the relevance and modernity of today's ITV. ITV1 had little heritage in the area of Saturday night family drama, so the strategy focused on highlighting the visual thrill and excitement of the action and making heroes of the cast, while communicating the message that Primeval was a fun and credible drama.

The marketing team believed there was something very powerful in replicating the show's fantasy adventure moments in everyday surroundings.


- Outdoor: London Underground activity was deployed featuring a series of spider-themed headwalls and digital escalator panels featuring scuttling spiders on the Tube. This was backed up with 96-sheets and Showcase Squares above and below ground. On the Friday before transmission, thelondonpaper was wrapped so that it was seemingly announcing to Londoners on their journey home that there were "Giant Monsters on Tube".

- Digital: The various creatures from each week's episodes featured in rich-media formats, which were deployed across a number of portals, entertainment and sci-fi sites throughout the series. A partnership was formed with LoveFilm, targeting users who had rented sci-fi DVDs in previous months.

- Online: was updated to reflect each episode, the Primeval website featured previews, catch-ups, forums and a mobile text mechanic allowing viewers to receive a reminder to view just before transmission each week.

- On-air, multichannel TV and print: In addition to a heavyweight on-air presence in ITV programmes, targeted spots were bought on sci-fi channels. This was supported by spreads within magazines such as Heat, and in a range of newspapers.


Primeval performed extremely well, exceeding its short-term viewing targets by averaging 6.4 million viewers and a 28 per cent share across the series, and over-delivering against the target audience. The spiders episode saw an increase in viewing share within London.

Viewers who were aware of the marketing campaign were eight times more likely to watch the show and ITV's tracking showed a 9 per cent uplift in agreement that ITV has new and exciting content. MindShare is undertaking a full ROI analysis of the effect of Primeval's marketing with the results expected shortly.

The modern and relevant tone of the content and marketing led The Times media section to say: "Primeval shows the beginning of real creative ambition."

Primeval has been recommissioned, and a second series goes into production later this year.

THE VERDICT - Pru Parkinson, group strategic planning director, Starcom

I found this slightly challenging to review since it felt rather like a "lite" version of a campaign strategy, a little "lite" on consumer insight and targeting. This either makes it a triumph of simplicity and creative amplification in a complex world, or over-reliant on the creative content.

Primeval is ITV1's answer to the BBC's Doctor Who revival. One assumes ITV's objectives were to capture the attention of Doctor Who's audience and lure them over to ITV1 for the rest of the evening.

The sci-fi targeting is nice. Exemplifying the programme's content to an audience clearly interested in strange creatures was effective and appropriate, especially when you look at the propensity of Doctor Who viewers to be "into" sci-fi, books, films and programming.

The heavy London upweight is, on the surface, a little strange, but, to be fair, I think you have to look behind the brief.

I suspect in my professional capacity, I am part of the target audience. I undoubtedly qualify as having a perception of ITV1's Saturday night schedule which it would be desirable to change. So in the absence of anything more detailed, I decided to look at it in the real world, as a human getting by day to day in a busy life.

So did it work? As a London commuter I noticed the communications. Yes, I knew it was for ITV1, and I probably worked out for myself that it was Saturday night. But did it change my skewed perception of ITV1? Well, yes, it did a bit, the creative amplification certainly cut through my bleary commuter locked-down brain and I became aware that ITV1 was serving up something that wasn't in the usual celebrity and jolly japes category that I've come to anticipate.

The fact that it has started to alter my perception of ITV1 scheduling, I guess, counts the campaign as a success on that level, however, it wasn't sufficient to make me watch or even press record on my personal video recorder. More worryingly, the activity didn't seem to attract an audience significantly different from the usual ITV1 peak audience, and my rural-dwelling sci-fi-loving husband didn't see any of the work or sufficient trailers to activate our PVR. But then he is probably too old to count as "fun-loving and ambitious".

Score: 3 out of 5.