Around 200 people die in British and Irish waters each year.
Currently, men aged between 18 and 39 make up over two thirds of that number.
The RNLI are aiming to see that number halved by 2024.
They approached us to find a solution to speak to a difficult to reach and even harder to influence demographic, encouraging them to Respect The Water.
In order to stand a chance of making a meaningful impact with the audience we had to find a credible platform that they trusted and wouldn't ignore but with consideration for the heritage of the RNLI.
The answer was working with LadBible to create three short documentaries: telling relatable, real-life stories of young men with first hand experience of how dangerous not respecting the water can be.
These films played out during a summer long activity, supported by reactive editorial on LadBible's social channels.
These films became RNLI’s most successful awareness campaign of all time.
"Respect the water" was also Lad Bible's most successful branded campaign that year. The reach alone is significant, having exceeded 4.2 million views on The Lad Bible’s Facebook page to date.
There were more than 40,000 shares, likes and reactions, and 3,000 comments.
The sentiment was overwhelmingly positive. Many tagged their friends to warn of dangers, helping the RNLI save more lives around the coast.
The films won both Gold and "Best of the best" at the Brand Film Festival with judges remarking that they were: "Powerful and perfect for the intended audience".
Warner Bros Lego Batman WINNER: Cannes Lions
So, how do you make your advertising cut through? Don't make it look like advertising - make it feel like it's coming from the channel itself.
Oh, and make it funny.
...it also helps to have access to a Hollywood A-lister to read your scripts and the Warner Bros animation department at your disposal.
For the first time in the history of UK television, the regular Channel 4 break continuity was taken over by Lego Batman during the weekend before the launch of the Lego Batman film.
The campaign involved unique contextual continuity announcements featuring our hero commenting on Channel 4 shows about to broadcast.
The film opened at no.1 at the UK box office. Holy effective ad-break innovation, Bat-fans.
Winner: Cannes Entertainment Lion for Excellence in Partnerships in Branded Content
Shortlisted: Cannes Media Lion: Media - Use of TV
The LEGO® Batman™ Movie – LEGO Batman Channel 4 Continuity Announcements - Warner Bros. UK
Lego Batman Continuity Bat Cannes Award
Sensodyne: Future Now
As market leader in the sensitivity toothpaste category, Sensodyne was under attack.
Its successful scientifically-led campaigns were now being copied by mainstream toothpaste brands - you know the ones: 'As a dentist, brand X is the only one I recommend blah blah blah'
Trouble is, when you're the market leader, everyone is after a bit of your profit, so Sensodyne were not only having their testimonial idea copied, they were now being outspent by the challenger brands.
So, they needed do something beyond yet another dentist testimonial.
The solution was to tap into the growing trend of science and technology becoming mainstream entertainment - y'know giving an audience something they might actually want to watch...
In partnership with Discovery Networks we created Future Now – a series of five films focussing on how Senosdyne’s product technology is applied in the wider world and crucially, were also entertaining and interesting.
Future Now was housed in a Discovery entertainment hub, not a Sensodyne sponsored environment - so it felt like shows that were coming directly from Discovery.
With a combined viewing time of over 7000 hours in it's first three months, the films appeared in Discovery’s TOP 15 viewed videos globally.
In fact, the aggregated hours spent watching Future Now was the equivalent of every episode of the Simpsons 39 times over.
...and I know what you're all dying to ask me, 'Yes that's all very impressive Dave, but what does the ROI look like?'
Well, to back it all up: the films also delivered business and brand results. Here's the kind of numbers that traditional advertising thinking couldn't achieve:
Sensodyne’s Purchase Intent increased by 37%
Propensity to buy increased 10%
And 56% of viewers felt more favourable towards Sensodyne
Having run in six markets, Future Now is now being planned for roll-out across a further 50 countries with some markets taking the series to TV.
It also continues to win a bunch of awards world-wide, including:
The Lovie Awards: Internet Video: Long Form or Series
Festival of Media Global Awards: Best Use of Native Advertising
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
Right, this one is a beauty even if I say so myself. It looks great, won awards and was incredibly effective, which is pretty much the gold standard when it comes this kind of thing really isn't it?
So, what do you do when your brand is getting an absolute beating in the press due to delays caused by asylum seekers sneaking aboard your trains?
Well, we could change the name I guess?...
What we actually did was a rebrand and long term strategy change that included OOH, a new TVC, some seasonal sponsorship idents and something called DCO (Digital Creative Optimisation) which is kind of like what industry people currently refer to as Programatic, but smarter.
...and what does all that mean? Well the short version is:
In a market that was in decline, we managed to completely buck the trend and not only did sales go up, but we also nicked market share from the competition.
This resulted in EuroTunnel's best ever financial year to date.
Now at this point you can either skip to the pretty films, or if you like numbers then boy howdy are you in for a treat cause here comes the science bit:
Consideration rose from 44% to 51% - a 16% uplift from pre-campaign and the highest level in 19 months.
Perception of ‘ease’ of using the service, and ‘speed' (the two most important drivers of choice in the category) rose to the highest level the brand has ever recorded on both metrics.
Growth in 7 out of the 8 key brand metrics outperformed all competitors across the campaign period.
Advertising recall of the brand's TV ads reached their highest level in 3 years.
2.1% increase in market share vs total market fall of 0.9% volume.
CTR doubled and DCO Delivered an unprecedented 286% lift in conversion rates and a 10% rise in average order value for Eurotunnel.
Campaign saw revenue increased by 5% - double their average ROI.
Dir. Colin Hesterly at Not To Scale.
IPA Effectiveness Award.
Campaign Media Awards: Bloomberg Data & Creativity Award.
Paddy's Perfect Pairings
Yes, on the face of it a speed dating show based around crisp sandwiches presented by Paddy McGuinness might seem a bit "off brief" but stick with me:
Every year, Walkers release limited edition flavours and to celebrate their collaboration with Heinz condiments range they opened a pop up sandwich speakeasy: where you could order crisp butties with the limited edition condiment flavours as fillings.
Turns out, as a nation we have some quite strongly held views on this kind of thing. It can divide a room, or bring people together...
So what better way to celebrate Walkers' perfect flavour pairings than with a speed dating show at the pop up shop?
I know, obvious right?
By working closely with Paddy and housing the films online on the ITV hub, the shows had the feel of a genuine series - which helped us connect with a hard to engage with younger audience who may have otherwise missed or not responded to the above the line TVC.
Oh, and they're funny.
Hailed as an example of the kind of successful branded content they want to make more of, "Paddy's Perfect Pairings" doubled subscribers to the Walkers YouTube page and the total combined views across ITV and YouTube are to date are in the millions - achieving 2 million of those in the first 24 hours of release.
Dir. Mark Henderson
Oh what's that Kelloggs? You want to give me an excuse to eat cereal in the office for 'research', write funny copy and come up with never before tried duel screen competition ideas for E4?
Can I invent the word 'Chocovault'?
Yes! Seriously? Nice one.
Can I have a surprisingly serious e-mail exchange with the Channel 4 legal and compliance department about who would win in a fight between a Krave Chocovore and a chocolate E4 logo?
Ok, Can I make a pensioner age VO artist say 'Totes amaze!'?
I can? Yeah go on then, I'm in...
What resulted (other than me eating a lot of cereal) was a live contextual competition that I wrote and directed which ran every night in the ad breaks of a week of E4 shows.
Viewers had to watch the shows to find the answers to the questions set in the break, then enter on the Facebook page before the timer got to zero to win some seriously good prizes.
It did well.
So well that the media companies and Channel 4 got me to do the Casestudy tape too. Here's some of the figures:
- 2.7 million people reached through owned and earned channels
- Combining TV and social, 80% reach was achieved
- Research showed the activity led to a +6% increase in the key metric of brand perception as 'up-to-date and cool'
- Consideration among those exposed increased by 14% to 59%
As part of their rebranding campaign, Lloyds Bank wanted a series of partnership pieces with Channel 4 that were 'Entertaining, unexpected and memorable'.
Featuring Clare Balding, Mary Portas, Ade Adepitan and Nick Hewer, the films focused on key life milestones rather than banking as they spoke about subjects including buying your first home or starting your own business.
It was the first time Lloyds Bank had used on screen talent in an advertising campaign. By giving the pieces the look and feel of a high end documentary - as if they were part of programming, they were very well received.
The format proved so successful for Lloyds that they continued the campaign with a new set of Channel 4 faces and stories.
This was a fun one. Working for Pepsico's European crisp brand, Lay's to celebrate the European football championships.
Using hidden cameras in a shopping mall in Madrid, unsuspecting members of the public were surprised by our digital interactive AR touchscreen poster - which incorporated custom Snapchat football themed filters to help build anticipation for the European matches.
The billboard incorporated facial recognition technology, real-time motion tracking and augmented reality software, to enable the layering of ‘facial effects’ filters.
These filters mimicked the designs that could be found on limited edition packs of Lay's and people who interacted with the billboard were rewarded with real versions of the filters - bringing the action into the real world.
This work was translated into different languages and released on Lay's international YouTube and Facebook pages.
Dir. Sam Wrench
Volkswagen Beetle at Abbey Road
As part of the launch of the new Beetle, VW commissioned an AFP series -'Abbey Road Studios: in Session' on Channel 4. I wrote the concept for the promo campaign for the series which featured a rare interview with Paul Weller at Abbey Road Studios.
Alongside the TV teaser commercial that ran on Channel 4, E4, More 4, Film 4, and 4 Music, pre-rolls and additional short-form videos of the interview promoted the shows online.
In the lead up to broadcast, the combined figures for the promotional films reached over a million views.
The charity Time-To-Change.org.uk wanted to change public perception and attitudes towards people with mental health issues, as well as encourage discussion around how to tackle mental health stigma using the #timetotalk hashtag.
I wrote a stripped back creative response featuring genuine people with mental health issues and their friends and family talking about how they support them. I also supervised the casting team of researchers who found our contributors.
The campaign ran across Channel 4 and ITV’s network of channels and included a radio advert which I wrote featuring the vocal talents of actor, Gary Beadle.
The films were well received by people affected by mental health issues and I'm very proud to be part of raising awareness about a previously taboo subject matter.
L'Oreal were bringing a new hair colorant to the UK aimed at the older home hair dying market and needed a more local tone of voice online and on TV to compliment the global brand ad campaign.
The key message was that it is an oil based permanent hair colour that gives longer lasting and more vibrant results, but in order to build trust, it was important that the pieces felt real and weren't scripted.
To give a believable testimonial real women were cast and asked what they thought of their new colour. Using their genuine and unscripted reactions was key to engaging with the target audience.
Dir. Ita Fitzgerald
This 60" was cited world-wide by L'Oreal as the template for this type of communication for Olia.
It has subsequently been broadcast in territories round the globe and the 'real women' approach is used in pretty much every L'Oreal advert I've seen since as I shout 'Shouldn't I be seeing some royalties for this or something?' and hurl things at my television screen.
For Weetabix’s £2 million year long sponsorship of ‘Lorraine’ on ITV and ITVPlayer, they needed a series of 5″ and 10″ break bumper idents that showed how Weetabix would set you up for big days...and big questions.
The kids are the real stars of these. All I had to do was write questions like 'How would you solve the world financial crisis?' to provoke unexpected or funny reactions and then we put the best responses together in the edit.
The 5"s also made really fun short videos which we seeded online to increase awareness and noise around the sponsorship.
Sainsbury's wanted to get customers excited about Summer - and in turn, get them in store by owning the build up and anticipation for Summer - keeping them the front of mind supermarket choice when it came to shopping.
By curating the customer's own experiences of Summer and mixing them with footage shot on phones, we created a series of vignettes made of user generated content that updated every week, culminating in a "best of" celebration of Summer.
This was a partnership with ITV that played out each week in primetime ad break slots.
Dir. Mark Henderson / Marcus Liversedge
I wrote a total of two years worth of seasonal idents for a seven figure Homebase 'always on' sponsorship deal of food programming across the Channel 4, Good Food and 4OD network of channels. The idents highlighted the entire Homebase range over the length of the sponsorship period and proved so effective that I wrote a new set for the following year as the sponsorship was extended.
Since the sponsorship began, Homebase have seen key metrics change in research from customers who have seen the idents:
- Consideration & purchase scores – 'It amplifies range re-appraisal, increases persuasion to shop'
- Message take outs are strong around, stylish, quality, ideas for the home & transformation
- Research also showed the recognition and recall of the idents exceeded the rival competitor's long running sponsorship on the same channel within weeks of being on air - achieving a score of 61 against the average of 47. In fact, the rival competitor eventually pulled their sponsorship altogether - How's that for effectiveness?
- The idents doubled cut through with the female ABC demographic and before it got changed, we even managed a positive shift in the perception of that whistling song...