Sky and Comcast team up for first time on ad that sees return of ET

Comcast and Sky got ET director Steven Spielberg on board to create an ad campaign they hope people will enjoy as much as their content.

Sky and Comcast have collaborated for the first time on a marketing campaign that tells the story of a grown up ET.

Launching today (28 November) in both the US and UK, the ad was created by Comcast’s agency Goodby Silverstein, alongside Sky’s in-house team Sky Creative.

It features the actor Henry Thomas, who played Elliott in the original film, who has now grown up and has a family of his own. As his kids play in the garden they find a grown up ET and bring him home, filling him in on everything that has happened since he has been away.

The campaign will air is exactly the same in the US and UK, with adverts both ending with the line ‘Reconnect this Christmas’. The aim is to position both Sky and Comcast as brands that connect people to the things they love, which Sky has not talked about at a company level before.

In the US it will be Comcast-branded and promote its Xfinity services, while in the UK it will be Sky-branded and promote its range of services including Sky Mobile, Sky Broadband and Sky Q.

The ad also marks the first time Sky has run a brand-wide campaign at Christmas. Usually it would focus on different aspects of its business such as Sky Movies or Sky Sports.

There will, however, be 30-second edits of the film that will promote Sky’s offer to customers over Christmas. These offers include, for example, unlimited data and free international landline calls on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, as well as free access to some movies and sport.

The ad will stay on TV, with Sky and Comcast keen to ensure it didn’t turn a film people love into something too commercial. However, it is a sign of Sky’s ambition to create advertising that people enjoy as much as its content.

The collaboration marks a defining point in what the relationship between Sky and Comcast will look like from a creative perspective.

Sky Creative’s executive creative director, Robin Garton tells Marketing Week: “The scale and ambition behind the idea is immense and a real proof of what Sky and Comcast together can achieve.

“While the ad was initially written for Comcast, it was obvious it was immediately applicable [to Sky]. On the shoot, we talked a lot about what we could learn from what each other is doing and how we could collaborate in the future across creative.”

Comcast bought Sky last year for almost $12bn (£9.3bn), winning a bidding war that saw it go up against The Walt Disney Company (which was, in turn, acquiring most of the assets of 21st Century Fox). Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the studio behind the original ET movie.

ET director Steven Spielberg approved the idea to use the character in Comcast’s marketing and was involved in developing the story.