The Broadcast: about Thinkbox’s 2016 ad

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

This 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 Broadcast’ was created by Red Brick Road and directed by The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide, through Blink Productions. Media planning by MediaCom.  Full ad credits are below.

A collaborative, storytelling ad break

This ad was launched in special ad breaks that mirrored the story of the ad’s creative and extended the narrative across the whole break.

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

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

These creative media breaks took 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. You can see how the break worked here.


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.

Andrew MacGillivray Marketing Director, Thinkbox

This ad was 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, and UKTV who together represent over 99% of commercial TV advertising revenue through their owned and partner TV channels.

This was the first TV ad Thinkbox made since concluding its highly successful trilogy of ads featuring Harvey the dog, who has retired to write his memoirs. 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.

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

The Bobbsey Twins cartoon

After we saw them lights in the sky it all gets kinda blurry. But we can say this; Maybe Uncle Aldus Bobbsey weren't so crazy after all

The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide

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