Channel 4 preps brand drive to tout ‘edgy’ credentials

Festival of Marketing 2013: Channel 4 is to launch a brand push to showcase its heritage of taking creative risks and to shift perceptions of the brand after claiming UK advertising has become “less daring”.

Top Boy
New Channel 4 brand campaign to feature programming such as Top Boy as broadcaster looks to push its edgy credentials.

The multi-channel push kicks off next week with a TV spot featuring clips from some of the channel’s most popular shows including Top Boy, Channel 4 News and Peep Show. During the ad, a voiceover will highlight how the broadcaster was set up to “take creative risks” and is “putting profit back into programming”.

The campaign, developed by Channel 4’s in-house advertising agency 4Creative, has a similar style to its recent Paralympics and Grand National ads as it looks to carve out a signature style for future brand initiatives.

Speaking at the Econsultancy and Marketing Week Festival of Marketing Punch event today (10 October) Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4, said it needed to be as “brave in [its] marketing as [it is in its] programming”. It is hoping the campaign provides a creative platform for it to be more daring in future.

Brooke added: “British marketing is in my opinion the most creative in the world, but due to a number of factors like the shortening of agency relationships and the safety first-type culture a recession breeds, I think it has become a little less daring.

“We’re trying to swim against that tide and the upcoming brand campaign doesn’t shy away from risk and, in fact, makes it a virtue.”

The campaign is part of a wider bid from the channel to reeducate viewers about its core values, particularly as it has a public service remit. Despite recent research highlighting viewers associating the brand with words such as “edgy” and “innovative”, Brooke said more work was needed on the brand to enhance its value to both viewers and advertisers. 

Separately, the Brooke said the broadcaster is developing a tool, dubbed an “Algorithm of Surprise”, which serves up content to registered 4oD users that they would not normally watch. It aims to encourage viewers to “take a leap of faith” with their personalised content. The product is the latest in the channel’s drive to integrate its database of over 9 million viewers into decisions about how it delivers content to viewers.

Brooke said: “We’re investing heavily in forging direct relationships with audiences in return for data about themselves. This represents a new era because it means television can now start wearing some of the clothes of the internet like connecting viewers directly in highly personal and measurable ways.”

The strategy was reflected earlier this week with the announcement that Channel 4 is to use Facebook’s API to integrate viewers’ posts into TV shows as well as better measure online conversations around its content. 

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