The Innovation 50: ITV shows how much more we can expect from a public broadcaster

The Innovation 50: ITV shows how much more we can expect from a public broadcaster

ITV, a channel with a 65-year history, has been through a total redefinition of its purpose over the last two years. And the verdict? It’s been a marketing triumph.

The channel that brought us Coronation Street, I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and Loose Women began re-examining its purpose alongside its brand strategy with the appointment of Carolyn McCall as chief executive in 2018. The question, in an intensely competitive market, was: what does ITV stand for?

Part of that reinvention, has been a flurry of impactful, creative and memorable campaigns that have driven social change, evolved the ITV brand and led the marketing industry to nominate it as an Innovation 50 brand.

Healthy departure

A good example is 2020’s Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign. Part of the channel’s Better Health initiative to encourage 10 million people to take action in supporting their physical and mental health, it has been credited with increasing sales of vegetables by £63m.

Created by adam&eveDDB, the 2020 campaign (from February 2019 to July 2020) is a media alliance between ITV, Channel 4 and Sky and has the support of major supermarket brands. It is credited with ensuring 517 million children’s vegetable portions were eaten.

Such campaigns have redefined what we can expect from a public broadcaster, says Pamela Brown, CMO, Vodafone IoT (Internet of Things), highlighting 2019’s Britain Get Talking campaign (see main image).

“ITV launched its landmark mental health campaign during Britain's Got Talent in 2019, with a focus on encouraging families to connect,” says Pamela.

“Highlighting data that shows a 48% increase in anxiety and depression in children since 2004, ITV has since run a series of campaigns that champion connecting families with one another as a scientifically evidenced way to build mental wellness,” she says.

Uncommonly good strategy

This fresh approach to its brand strategy was born after ITV approached Uncommon Creative Studio.

Catherine Peacock, Managing Partner and Head of Account Management at Uncommon Creative Studio, says, “Over the last decade the TV landscape has shifted dramatically – the global competition from the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and so on, means ITV requires a strong, future-facing brand strategy.

“‘More than TV’ is not just about celebrating ITV’s ability to entertain millions of viewers daily, it also recognises their role when it comes to shaping our UK culture – they have a remarkable ability to truly make a difference – and campaigns like ‘Britain Get Talking’ are about doing just that,” she says.

Character-building stuff

These were the same reasons why Marc Allenby, Creative Director, Harvard, also nominated ITV.

Marc says, “ITV is amazing at using its channel as a means to break down social barriers. Characters in Coronation Street, for example, are used to highlight LGBT issues and they’ve got Britain talking about mental health in other programmes. And they reinstate the importance of breaking down barriers and taboos by making lead characters, female or gay. What makes them so untraditional is that they use their assets – what they do – as a platform to communicate to the world. That’s inspiring.”

Keep your eyes peeled for the return of the Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign for its third year in February 2021.