Thinkbox uses ‘disruptive’ aliens to promote the ‘power’ of TV

Thinkbox believes a disruptive approach is the best way to communicate the ‘power’ of TV as an advertising channel.


Thinkbox is launching its “biggest ever” TV campaign in order to cut through to advertisers and convince brands to keep investing in the medium.

The campaign will hit the airwaves on Boxing Day and sees aliens ‘disrupt’ three popular TV ads to broadcast an other worldly message to the British public.

The marketing body has collaborated with DFS, Lucozade and Sheba to create one-off versions of their TV ads, with each suddenly ‘interrupted’ by gibberish messages from extra-terrestrials trying to make contact with Earth. A full 60-second ad will follow making it clear to audiences what the aliens represent.

The campaign, created by Red Brick Road, will be broken up into numerous parts to extend the the narrative across the whole break. The idea behind this collaboration is to create intrigue throughout the break, and provide viewers with a ‘penny drop’ moment at the end.

The breaks will take place during Captain Phillips on ITV, Big Fat Quiz of the Year on Channel 4, Love Actually on ITV2, Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic, Conviction on Sky Living and Transformers on Sky One.

The new campaign is the marketing body’s “biggest ever”, and marks the official end of the Harvey the dog trilogy, which debuted in 2010.

“The story itself uses the power of live TV to extend the story and entertain the audience. The ad gives our rational communications a more emotional oomph,” says Thinkbox’s marketing director Andy MacGillivray.

MacGillivray claims all three brands “jumped at the chance” of having their ads disrupted.

“Letting another advertiser interrupt one of your ads sounds bonkers, but I think the whole break should be fun for the viewers, and will create extra cut-through for Lucozade Sport,” adds Steven Hind, head of marketing at Lucozade Sport.

While MacGillivray acknowledges the Brexit vote has given advertising revenues “a bit of a wobble”, he remains bullish about the medium. Total TV ad spend hit £5.2bn in 2015 according to the Advertising Association/Warc figures, and is set to increase 2.4%  and 2.6% in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

“Brands have responded pretty rationally and continued to provide great communications, products and services. All we can do is stay confident,” he explains.

MacGillivray also believes Thinkbox still has a job to do when it comes to self-promotion.

He concludes: “We are like any brand, if you don’t have a good share of people’s mind and heart, you slip away sooner rather than later. There is still lots more to do to make sure people know about telly [and its marketing value].”


TV at 60

TV ads at 60: How they’ve changed and the most effective ads ever

Mindi Chahal

As it reaches its 60th birthday, UK TV advertising has evolved from being information-heavy to prioritising clever creative that triggers emotion and uses humour to entertain viewers. Targeted content that can transfer across different screens and marketing channels is also rising up the agenda, thanks to changing consumption habits and new technology for media buying. […]