625: Andrew Wiseman's Television Room (2K)
625 - Right to Reply
Right to Reply:

Created  We 8-Dec-99
Revised  Su 6-Feb-00

TV companies today are very image conscious, sometimes spending huge sums on their on-screen look. But do the logos have higher production values than some of the programmes? And as the broadcasters increasingly turn to outside agencies for their marketing, how long before the marketeers' influence spreads to the programmes themselves? In November 1999 I filmed an item for Right to Reply on this subject, speaking to the head of marketing at Channel 5 and to the agency responsible for the BBC balloons and Carlton's star.

Thanks to Rob Sedgebeer for capturing, editing and encoding the video clip.

From Right to Reply shown on C4 on Sa 27-Nov-99 at 19:00, repeated Th 2-Dec-99 at 04:10
and shown on S4C on Mo 29-Nov-99 at 13:30

Copyright © 1999 Channel 4 Television Corporation.


In today's supermarket of the airwaves, branding is the way to make your TV channel stand out. But who's in charge? The marketing executives or the programme makers?


Roger Bolton


Advertising is hard to escape nowadays. If it isn't the commercials that pay for many of our programmes, it's the adverts TV stations increasingly use to promote themselves. Branding your channel has become a broadcasting obsession. Both ITV and Channel 5 have recently changes their logos to sell a fresh image of themselves. And the BBC was this week voted British Brand of the Century. Regular Right to Reply viewer Andrew Wiseman reports on the rules of the TV branding game.
Andrew, voiceover

Spot the difference.

Three weeks ago Granada were using this logo.

And now they've switched to this one.

This is more than simple cosmetics - it's all part of a carefully planned strategy


Most of the ITV companies have recently changed their logos to say they're part of one network, broadcasting "from the heart".

Welcome to the competitive world of television branding.

Andrew in a supermarket
With up to 200 channels soon to be available in our living rooms, the way a channel identifies and distinguishes itself from the competition has never been more important. TV channels are now employing the same techniques of branding that we see all around us.

Mark Earls

Mark Earls
Planning Director,
St Lukes Advertising Agency

The average supermarket now carries 20 000 individual product lines. In order to get us to think about a particular product, the owner of that particular product has to get us to think about it before we get to the supermarket.

Similarly in a world of multi-channel television, you have to get people to know you're there, know what you stand for and to expect a certain kind of programming when they arrive.


ITV's big re-branding was designed to make them stand out from the supermarket of the airwaves by confronting a major identity crisis.


Brian Eley

Brian Eley
Creative Director, Lambie-Nairn

Because it's a huge network of different regional companies, it's always lacked a little a unified voice. It makes it very hard to present itself strongly to an audience. Many of their most high profile productions, the things they were proudest of, were very often credited to the BBC.

So how does it work? Lambie-Nairn were the design consultancy who had to make the ITV network branding work for one of the regional companies, Carlton in London.
They simply wanted to have an expression of the heart which was theirs alone. So we were asked to somehow square this circle, that they were part of ITV and therefore of the heart but they were also unique as a brand. And we came up with the proposition that, okay, if ITV is the 'heart', Carlton is the 'star' of the ITV network.
The service designers provide certainly doesn't come cheap. But the stakes are high. The BBC say they spent well over a million pounds on these now familiar logos. About as much as two hours of a costume drama. But the Corporation had a vital message to transmit across the crowded airwaves.
BBC One is based on the proposition that BBC One brings a world of programming to every nation. And it's about pride in a national institution. And after a few imaginative leaps, it takes you to a hot air balloon taken to every part of the United Kingdom.
I can't help wondering if some of these slick idents have higher production values than the programmes themselves.
  How much do you value your reputation? That's what you're talking about. But you can't make empty promises. You can't build up a brand for something which is quite insubstantial. There has to be something there for viewers to watch.
That's the risk with branding, that the marketing glitz may end up better than the content. It's a problem that afflicted Channel 5 when it launched 2 ½ years ago.

Jim Hytner

Jim Hytner
Marketing Director, Channel 5

The launch itself was successful in establishing us as a big brand or a big channel. But I'm not sure that we the channel has a good enough feeling of what our programming was going to be and therefore it was quite hard to express that to viewers.


It's a guide to the importance of marketing that Jim Hytner has been dubbed "the most important man at Channel 5". He's now re-branding as well, to make the image and the programmes match.


Our new idents involve our channel personalities, our channel celebrities, who actually take the mickey out of the channel or take the mickey out of themselves. It tries to express a confidence to the viewer that we have about ourselves.

So branding is now the name of the game. But what about the future? Marketeers have already seized control of the bits in between the programmes. But how long before they begin to influence the programmes themselves?
  Most marketeers would say absolutely, we should influence the programme content. Should this happen in television? I think not. We have a creative department called programme makers and I think it would be a sad day if marketeers suddenly invent a formula whereby we can anticipate viewing demands and some sort of factory piles it out.


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Behind The Scenes

  Channel 5's Jim Hytner was growing a beard for charity when we interviewed him. He mentioned to me that the C5 on-screen logo may not be around for much longer, at least on analogue terrestrial television.
  In an attempt to see whether branding actually works, we spent some time filming, in the rain, in Covent Garden, asking passers-by for their views. We showed them various familiar identities, with the lettering removed, to see if they could identify the channel. We also asked what feelings, if any, the graphics evoked for them. Sadly none of this was used in the final film.
  The film ends rather abrubtly with Jim Hytner. There was to be an extra piece at the end where I ask, tongue-in-cheek, whether if the marketeers got hold of Right to Reply would Roger Bolton be on a comfy sofa next series with Denise Van Outen co-presenting? Again, this was sadly chopped out of the final film.

Other Right to Reply pages at this site...

Full Contents Channel 5 Preview Channel 5 Reception PDC Widescreen DOGs Branding Future TV

625 TV Logos Programme Delivery Control Explained Public Information Films Channel 5 Invasion of the Web Snatchers Digital TV - Beyond the Hype
TV Room TV Logos PDC
PIFs Channel 5 Web
Digital TV


625: Andrew Wiseman's Television Room (2K)