Staggering into a warehouse in Kings Cross at 2am on Sunday morning
for the weekend’s biggest party (it gave Elton John a run for his money,
anyway) I was expecting to find a lot of tired and emotional FilmFour
executives relaxing with a shandy or two.
The FilmFour launch gig was still going strong and revellers were
gyrating in puddles of beer and halls of funky music. But the
FilmFourers themselves were as sober as a newt without booze. As the new
guardians of the Channel 4 brand, the weight of responsibility was a
heavy burden which precluded getting merry and whirling to Kraftwerk
with the rest of us.
FilmFour is, after all, the first major extension of the Channel 4
Merchandising, books and videos now carry the Channel 4 moniker, but
FilmFour represents the first mainstream development of the franchise.
As arguably the strongest brand in the TV market, any diffusion carries
with it a degree of risk.
Channel 4 has been taking no chances. Key executives have kept a
watchful eye on this new offspring and, in typical Channel 4 style, the
launch has been backed by a major pounds 5 million ad push, all done
with the sort of flair you would expect from the mother brand.
Not for Channel 4 the whimsy of Nat Mags’ Terry Mansfield’s confession
in Campaign last week: ’I am mad about a Cosmopolitan cafe.’ Cosmo bags,
bed linen and drinks are all embraced with a joyous confidence in the
flexibility of the Cosmo brand. For Channel 4, launching into the
multichannel TV market is a braver move: the stakes are higher, success
or failure more visible and impact on the main brand - for good or ill -
It’s also an important initiative for the platforms that will carry
FilmFour, particularly the new digital platforms. The touchstone of the
Channel 4 brand and its associations with quality programming will help
drive the idea that digital offers new quality programming from
well-loved household names. Quite a responsibility for FilmFour.
Its line-up of films looks great for the launch month (the Usual
Suspects, the Madness of King George, Shallow Grave) but whether there
is enough material to pull in subscribers six months down the line is
less easy to determine. Channel 4 has a great reputation for films,
which could be spread too thinly on the new channel.
Any grumblings about value for the monthly pounds 5.99 fee will impact
on Channel 4 itself.
Yet if Channel 4 manages to get it right with this new venture, it can
only add to the stature of the Channel 4 name and bring in new monies to
strengthen the brand. And that seems like a much more valuable and
mutually beneficial way of extending your brand values than launching a
coffee shop that has nothing to do with magazine publishing.
Have your say - coincidentally enough - on channel 4 of CampaignLive at