It wouldn’t be wholly unfair to say that some people in media are, on occasion, a bit up their own arses. But now we can definitively say that they are sometimes also up other people’s too.
Yes, I'm talking about the colonoscopy broadcast live on Channel 4 recently in a remarkable ad for Cancer Research. We already knew that TV has unparalleled reach. Little did we know.
The live ad was an amazing thing to accomplish and to watch – and the latest example of how brands are working ever closer with broadcasters to innovate with their TV advertising.
But it certainly isn't the only example of TV innovation. This is why it is so odd that TV still sometimes gets labelled ‘old fashioned’ or ‘traditional’. There’s nothing traditional about broadcasting live from someone’s colon.
That’s not a sentence I ever expected to write.
The reality is, TV is constantly refreshing, renewing and reinventing itself. It’s a hothouse of innovation, as we discovered when we recently held an event dedicated to showcasing the latest ingenious uses of TV. You can watch the highlights here.
TV’s innovations cover every area, but the most common areas of experimentation are in branded content, new ad formats, creative uses of TV talent, contextual advertising and taking advantage of the leaps and bounds happening in TV tech and data. And, while I have you, it would be remiss not to share a handful of my favourite recent examples.
Where better to start than with the marvellous Suzuki partnership with ITV. Suzuki was already sponsoring Saturday Night Takeaway but – with the7stars – they built on this with a multi-layered campaign featuring Ant & Dec in ten 30-second TV ads (plus longer-form video for social use). The ads included ‘Chat Nav’, where Ant & Dec secretly voiced a spoof live Sat Nav, and I'm A Salesperson, Get Out of my Ear, where the boys secretly gave absurd commands to Suzuki salespeople. This was very clever and hugely entertaining extension of the sponsorship as it took elements of the TV show and translated them into usable pieces of content for Suzuki – for TV ads, for their website and for the TVs in their dealerships.
If you’re looking for some highly creative use of VOD interactivity, then you should check out (in to?) Hotels.com and Channel 4. They took the familiar "Skip Ad" instruction made famous by YouTube literally and created alternative versions of their ad in which, at the click of a button, all the characters start skipping with jump ropes. Playful, smart, entertaining.
If the question is how you seamlessly and unobtrusively weave a brand into a TV show 1,600 times, then the answer is Casio G Shock’s ‘The Indestructibles’ with UKTV’s Dave. In this brilliant content partnership, via Factory Media and The Story Lab, Casio G-Shock funded an action-sports TV series on Dave in which extreme athletes were dropped into different locations around the UK tasked with creating and executing epic stunts with just £1,000 and three days to test and build their creations. You couldn’t find a better creative/strategic fit.
I’ve saved my favourite until last. It is my favourite because it is all about data and I’m all about data too. This is Argos’s partnership with Sky.
For a business that gets over 1 billion web visits per year and for which 50% of sales are online, data is obviously a crucial part of their business. They took the 500,000 homes that make up the Sky Viewing Panel and cross matched it with their own first party customer data. This meant a final matched panel of 280,000 customers for whom they could see what programmes, ads and sponsorship idents they are watching. This gave them a link between TV exposure and purchase and the opportunity to analyse and constantly plan and evaluate activity. An additional £7 million in incremental revenue has been driven as a result of these data insights.
I could and usually do go on. But I shall force myself to simply give you the link I gave you a few paragraphs earlier, knowing that you haven’t yet clicked on it. Please do watch the TV innovation event for many more examples of how TV can be used today, inside and outside the gastrointestinal tract.