When Persona Synthetics, a company selling human-like domestic robots, began advertising online, some consumers were taken in by its convincing claims.
In fact, the campaign was designed to promote 'Humans', a sci-fi drama in which people buy robotic ‘synths’ to work in their homes, which went on to be one of the broadcaster’s most successful new dramas of recent years.
A co-production between Kudos and AMC, the American broadcaster behind ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad’, the show won the 2016 BAFTA Digital Creativity Award.
Its award-winning marketing campaign was the result of a collaboration between multiple agencies and media owners including 4Creative, Channel 4’s in-house digital and creative teams, Fuse, OMD, eBay and Microsoft.
To get people talking about Humans the viral ad was shown to viewers on Gogglebox, the reality show which features people watching and talking about TV, with discussion then flowing onto social media.
It was all part of the TV brand’s long term plan to produce provocative marketing, according to James Walker, Channel 4’s marketing chief.
Walker, who also led both the acclaimed 2012 and the 2016 Paralympics Superhumans marketing campaigns, says this type of creative viral demonstrates the broadcaster’s innovative approach to cutting through with audiences.
He told Marketing Week:
“Our most brand-defining content isn’t necessarily watched in huge numbers but it is the most talked about.
“Our Ofcom remit requires us to deliver a brand for certain neglected voices you don’t hear in the mainstream and that means we can be bold with our marketing.”
In 2015 Campaign Magazine made Channel 4 its advertiser of the year and Media Week awarded it the Grand Prix for the Humans campaign.
Marketing Week also declared that Channel 4 was the most successful British brand at communicating diversity in its marketing and advertising.
Walker oversees all marketing on and off air for Channel 4’s network of channels and services and is responsible for the marketing, social media, media planning and channel announcer teams. He is also on the board of directors for Freeview.
Walker joined Channel 4 Marketing in 2007 and prior to that was a Business Director at its in-house creative agency, 4creative. He started his career in advertising working at agencies DFGW, DDB and Young & Rubicam.