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Do channel brands still matter?

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06 November 2012

How relevant are TV channel brands in an on-demand world where viewers can simply search for the shows they want to see? Ahead of this week’s Promax conference and awards (8-9 Nov), four TV marketeers discuss

Matt Scarff, creative director, entertainment, Sky Creative
My local supermarket recently changed its layout. All the everyday items that for years I’d purchased without thinking, had moved to different aisles. It was chaos. Channel brands, like supermarkets can still be navigators and beacons of trust for viewers in the on-demand world. They help filter choices by shining a light of familiarity on relevant content for a new generation of ‘on-demanders’. But for channel brands to survive, there must be absolute brand clarity and this must extend to the on-demand experience: consistent, curated, easily navigable and trusted. These will be the keys to survival. Now, where will I find the milk?

Reemah Sakaan, director of network marketing, ITV
Are we really still having this debate? I don’t even understand the term ‘channel’ brands...brands are brands whether they sit on TV channels, the internet or your mobile. The greatest of brands don’t change over time irrespective of distribution method; in fact they stretch to fit it. As beacons of meaning and emotion, powerful brands have always acted as editors of choice and are more relevant than ever. In on-demand environments where audiences can navigate by the likes of Netflix or Hulu they are critical – a show called Happy Nuns branded BBC One sets up a very different meaning and expectation to Happy Nuns branded Playboy channel!

James Walker, head of marketing, Channel 4

While the digital and on demand world allows people to watch content whenever, and wherever they choose, it has also created a significant problem. How do you navigate a world of almost infinite content and find what you actually want to watch? The role of the channel brand in this landscape continues to be one of acting as an aid to decision making, a mental short cut which guarantees the quality and provenance of content. Brands have always been used as a navigational tool by people, and this role  becomes even more vital in a time where content, but not quality, is ubiquitous.

Rich Thrift, creative director, 5Creative
It is ultimately about brands understanding whatever medium they are working on.  For example, some second screen concepts show how programme content and social networking can marry, but in the main I feel that these are very much viewer-led experiences. Our Gadget Show 360 iOS app, on the other hand, shows the viewer that C5 has a keen and original take on that technology and thus hints at its attitude going forward with others. Whether it’s a promo, a show or an app, it is the simplicity of a great idea, the idea that elegantly masters the platform it is designed for, that will forge the relevance and reputation of a brand.


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