Warning- Spoilers Ahead!
When it comes to incredible TV advertising and marketing, Channel 4 doesn’t exactly jump to mind, does it? Sure, their ads are alright, but they’re not really anything special. That was, until Humans came along.
With the release of their pseudo brand ‘Persona Synths’, Channel 4 got the UK talking and showed the big guys how to do marketing properly. This was perhaps one of the greatest TV advertisements and marketing projects to date for a television programme, because it captured the audience and got them wanting – craving – more. Here’s what they did.
Series 1 – The Birth of Persona Synths
It was May 2015 when ‘Persona Synths’ first came about. A brief, odd advertisement showcasing realistic robots described as ‘Your new best friend’.
An accompanying website was created which showcased these new ‘synths’, as well as newspaper adverts, social media pages and even a front of their first flagship store in Regent Street, complete with interactive screens displaying animations of the Synths. Talk about realistic!
Of course, there was no such thing as Persona Synths, and, ultimately, it was all a sort of hoax to advertise Channel 4’s up-coming show, Human’s. But it got people talking. The YouTube version of the ad has now racked up over 600,000 views and within 72 hours of this unveiling, #PersonaSynths was trending on Twitter, their website had almost half a million hits and an eBay auction for the synths had more than 200,000 views.
Channel 4 had captured its audience. It was an incredible feat of collaborative TV and media advertising, using multiple platforms and an ingenious idea to create a buzz around the show – and it worked. Humans became Channel 4’s most successful drama launch with an average of 4 million viewers.
Series 2 – Something New
With the return of Humans in 2016, Channel 4 wasn’t done with their marketing extravaganza just yet! Of course, everyone was now clued up on Persona Synths, so they had to come up with a completely new way to interact and engage with the audience.
In the first series, viewers had watched the synths sort of malfunctioning, and so Channel 4 played to this. They continued with their line of incredibly realistic adverts, but this time calling for a ‘product recall’ if your synth was misbehaving.
The whole advert was incredible, from the futuristic behind-the-scenes look into synth manufacturing to the narrators eerily enthusiastic smile. It was unsettling and intriguing, hinting at the darker side of the series.
Again, the audience was directed to a website, which detailed how to report your Synth in cases of malfunction and Synth collection buses were ever spotted around the UK. The whole thing was so realistic it could’ve fooled us again!
This time, though, Channel 4 took their marketing a step further. They integrated a Facebook Messenger chat system, where their audience could directly talk to malfunctioning synths and become immersed in the shows story. What was so very clever about this was not only the unique interaction, but that, on the day of the show, a message was sent to all who had used the chat, from the ‘Synth’, telling them to watch Channel 4 that night at 9pm to find out more about the story. Pretty clever, isn’t it?
Both of these campaigns were so successful for a number of reasons.
Firstly, they were completely original and quite a refreshing take on advertising. They got people talking, which is what you want an advert to do. They also got their audience to engage and interact, immersing them in this programme at a new level; the website, the store front and the use of Facebook Messenger created a new dimension to what would otherwise be an ordinary programme. They pushed multi-channel marketing, seeing how far they could go with it and maximising it’s potential. If there was once a glass roof on this kind of marketing, Channel 4 smashed it.
The only reason this was possible is because Channel 4 collaborated with multiple agencies who knew what they were doing and were skilled in their areas of expertise. Not only does this show what you can do with modern-day video marketing, but also the importance of good agencies.
If you’d like to collaborate on a project with us or have an innovative video marketing idea that can’t be do alone, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We’re always happy to answer questions and hear new ideas.