Aliens invade TV ad breaks to announce their arrival Thinkbox’s new TV ad launches on Boxing Day in collaborative, storytelling ad breaks

Aliens will suddenly appear on TV across the UK on Boxing Day to announce they are coming to Earth in the latest Thinkbox TV ad. Cue bedlam as the nation rushes to greet Earth’s new arrivals.

Made by Red Brick Road and directed by The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide, ‘The Broadcast’ will premiere on UK broadcast TV on Boxing Day but is available to watch online at from today (21 December).

Thinkbox’s new ad is a tongue-in-cheek homage to classic science fiction films but with a very British flavour. It opens high above the Earth as a fleet of alien spaceships bear down on our planet. Their warlike-looking leader punches a button  on his console and addresses the people below via live TV. His sudden appearance on TV screens everywhere, repeating the message “Oola Oola Zod”, galvanises the nation into a range of responses as varied as humanity itself; from blind panic and shock, to awe and unbridled enthusiasm.

We then watch as the country’s top brass, scientists and military converge on the landing site, as do UFO enthusiasts keen to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition: to welcome a being from another world. They gather. They wait, eyes glued to the night sky. We see the space-ship touch down in a cloud of smoke and light. Down the ramp thunders a six toed alien, clad in armour, clutching a staff. “Oola Oola Zod!” he thunders triumphantly. He may have successfully moved the whole nation using TV, but there’s a twist in the tale…

The alien featured in the ad was created by designer Robert Allsopp, who has worked on films including X-Men, Robin Hood and Dredd, and TV series including Dr Who.

A collaborative, storytelling ad break

Thinkbox’s new ad will appear on Boxing Day from 9pm in special ad breaks that mirror the ad’s story and extend the narrative across the whole break.

Thinkbox, through Mediacom, has collaborated with DFS, Lucozade and Sheba  to create one-off versions of their TV ads which are mysteriously interrupted by messages from the incoming extra-terrestrials trying to make contact with Earth.

Throughout the storytelling ad break, as the aliens get closer, their message gets clearer, culminating with the Thinkbox 60-second ad making its broadcast debut. The idea behind this collaboration is to create intrigue throughout the break, and provide viewers with a ‘penny drop’ moment at its end as they see the alien story revealed.

These creative media 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.

Andrew MacGillivray, Marketing Director, Thinkbox:
“Following the retirement of the star of Thinkbox’s previous TV ads – Harvey the dog is currently writing a memoir – we wanted to do something completely different in style and tone: something that entertains viewers, stands out in the ad break, and clearly shows the power of TV advertising.

“We believe this new TV ad brings to life the scale, cultural reach, impact and synchronicity of TV advertising. It shows that if you want to speak to the whole nation at the same time and have a genuine impact, then you use TV. Aliens are optional.”

Steven Hind, Head of Marketing, Lucozade Sport:
“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.”

Nick Ashworth, Head of Marketing Communications, DFS:
“The idea of advertisers working together on TV ad breaks to create innovation, intrigue and engagement really appeals to the team at DFS. We saw a great response from consumers in terms of engagement and memorability to our creative in ITV’s Text Santa “Knitted" Ad Break last year. This is a fantastic opportunity to deliver something extra for everyone watching at this vital time of year for our business – and this definitely does!”

Katherine Horrocks, Communications Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mars Petcare UK:
“We loved collaborating on Thinkbox’s storytelling ad break, using our extra-terrestrial friends to bring the concept that ‘Resistance is Futile’ to life in a different way. This innovative idea allows Sheba to demonstrate the brand’s sense of humour and entertain viewers with a fresh new approach.”

This is the first TV ad Thinkbox has made since concluding its highly successful trilogy of ads featuring Harvey the dog. Thinkbox’s TV advertising has been awarded by The British Television Advertising Awards/ The British Arrows, the APA, D&AD and Creative Circle. Thinkbox’s ‘Harvey the dog ad’ was voted 2010’s Ad of the Year by a poll of ITV viewers. ‘Harvey & Rabbit’ appeared in Nielsen’s study of the Most Liked Ads of 2012 and Campaign’s Top 10 TV & Cinema Ads of 2012. ‘Harvey & Harmony’ was one of the nation’s top ten most liked ads of 2015, according to a study by Ebiquity / TNS. 

Thinkbox’s TV campaigns are the most successful communications it has undertaken, building awareness of the organisation and the power of TV advertising and encouraging advertisers to get in contact to find out what TV can do for them.

TV advertising is repeatedly proven to be the most effective form of advertising, creating the biggest long-term business effects and generating the most profit of any medium. Most recently, the first part of ‘Marketing in the digital age’, by Les Binet and Peter Field for the IPA, revealed that TV remains the most effective ad medium and is getting more effective. The study was co-sponsored by Google and Thinkbox.

The new Thinkbox TV ad will be screened across a variety of broadcast and on-demand TV channels represented by Thinkbox’s shareholders and their partner channels. Thinkbox’s shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations, and UKTV who together represent over 99% of commercial TV advertising revenue through their owned and partner TV channels.

Press contact: [email protected] | 020 7630 2326

Ad credits:

  • Agency: Red Brick Road
  • Executive Creative Directors: Matt Davis, Richard Megson
  • Senior Creative: Dean Webb
  • Business Director: Joseph Pirrie
  • Senior Account Manager: Rosie Gilligan
  • Agency Producer: Charles Crisp
  • Agency Assistant Producer: Adam Pretty
  • Production Company: Blink Productions
  • Directors: The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide
  • Lighting Cameraman: Alex Barber
  • 1st Assistant Director:  James Sharpe
  • Producer: Ewen Brown
  • Production Manager: Lucy Jones
  • Production Designer: Jane Carroll
  • Alien costume design: Robert Allsop
  • Offline editor: Ed Cheeseman at Final Cut
  • Post Production: Big Buoy
  • Head of Production: Barny Wright
  • Post Production SPV: Hussein Hassani
  • Sound design: Sam Ashwell at 750 MPH
  • Colourist: Seamus O’Kane at The Mill 
  • Music: Ed Bailie at Leland Music

Media planning & buying credits:

  • Agency: Mediacom
  • Associate Director: David Mills
  • Media Manager: Alan Meech
  • AV Manager: Manveer Lall,
  • Senior Broadcast Buyer: Tazz Stander
  • Digital Planner: Sam Wright
  • Senior Digital Buyer: Laura Day

About Thinkbox

Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. It works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today’s TV.

Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and UKTV, who together represent over 99% of commercial TV advertising revenue through their owned and partner TV channels. Associate Members are Discovery Networks Norway, Disney, London Live, RTL Group, TalkTalk, TAM Ireland, Think TV (Australia), thinktv (Canada), TNV Media (Poland), TV Globo (Brazil), TV2 (Norway) and Virgin Media. Discovery Networks UK & Ireland and STV also give direct financial support.

TV today has more to offer advertisers than ever before, not least because this growing medium remains at the heart of popular culture and advertising effectiveness. From understanding how audiences engage with TV advertising, uncovering what the latest technological developments mean, explaining innovative and affordable solutions, and encouraging creativity to providing the rigorous proof of effectiveness that advertisers need, Thinkbox is here to help businesses meet their marketing objectives.

In recent years, Thinkbox has won a number of awards including Media 360’s Industry Body of the Decade; Best Business to Business Marketing at The Marketing Society Awards for Excellence; the Grand Prix award for Best Media Research of the Year from the Media Research Group; the awards for Advertising and Media Research from the Market Research Society; Research Team of the Year from Mediatel; and its TV advertising has been awarded by The British Television Advertising Awards/ The British Arrows, the APA, D&AD and Creative Circle. Thinkbox’s ‘Harvey the dog ad’ was voted 2010’s Ad of the Year by a poll of ITV viewers, with the follow up TV Ad – ‘Harvey & Rabbit’ – appearing in Nielsen’s study of the Most Liked Ads of 2012 and Campaign’s Top 10 TV & Cinema Ads of 2012. ‘Harvey & Harmony’, the third ad in the Harvey series, was one of the nation’s top ten most liked ads of 2015 (source Ebiquity / TNS).

About Red Brick Road

Red Brick Road is an independent creative agency in London’s Clerkenwell. Their clients include L’Oréal, Jägermeister, Yorkshire Building Society Group, Suzuki and Beano. Capabilities include Advertising, Digital, Social Media, PR, Experiential and Data.

For more information, please contact David Miller at RBR on 020 7575 7654

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