Inventing a solution

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The BBC Proms are back.

In this job, there are a number of projects that crop up every year. The same thing happens in the yearly life cycle of most production departments. At Capital it was Party in the Park and Help a London Child. And here in the Cross trails team, it’s The BBC Proms. Essentially the same event every year with a different lineup.

There’s always a temptation to promote these kinds of events in the same way – ie a fairly simple billboard promo with clips of music pointing towards a TX time or the date that the season starts.
Add to that, the need for the radio campaign to closely tie in to the TV creative campaign.

This year, the challenge was that the TV trail essentially combined 3 key Proms pieces with some beautifully shot images showing people’s emotions as they listened to the music. The easiest solution was for the radio trail to reflect that and simply be a simply cut montage of 3 or 4 key pieces and a VO guiding the listener through the highlights. And that’s what we did for the trails for Radio 3 and 4

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There was more of a challenge for us for the trail to run on Radio 2. Whilst there is a good part of their audience that appreciates the broad part of the Proms programme, it’s quite hard for the media schedulers to fit a purely classical music trail across the whole Radio 2 schedule.

Luckily, there was perfect creative hook available.

One of the highlights of the Proms for the past few years, particularly for the younger and family audiences, has been the Family Prom. Over the past 3 years there have been 2 Doctor Who Proms and also a Horrible Histories Prom. And this year, it’s a Wallace and Gromit themed concert.

For those of you not in the UK, Wallace and Gromit are an animated duo who have featured in a number of TV programmes and also an Oscar winning film over the past 10 years or more. The characters are a man (Wallace) who is a prolific inventor (of fairly improbable gadgets) and his world-weary dog Gromit (who is the more intelligent half of the duo).

And with that material as a starting point, the idea was born – to feature the characters in a specially written trail for the Proms – inventing a Proms machine that composes music – which of course goes wrong.

It’s not so much the idea that I’m proud of, but the fact that we came up with it in a creative meeting where collaborative ideas are always welcome and discussed. The fact that we have the relationships with Aardman, the animation company, helped. And the fact that the stakeholders (including the director of the Proms) were open to a different creative idea.

And the creative journey was fairly simple. From my idea in a meeting to the script from the ad agency, the process involved the creative team at Aardman checking we had the language right for their characters and finally recording the character voices for us.

The point I’m trying to make is that whatever the project, you can pretty much always find a creative angle to solve the brief. If its something that you come across time and again (maybe another advert for a dull client), work out what you can do differently. For us, it was the fact that the character was an inventor. But we could equally have focused on the numbers involved – over 150 composers over 3 months – and worked up an idea from there.

The proms start on BBC Radio 3 and across the BBC tonight and the Wallace and Gromit Prom is live on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday July 29th and will be on BBC TV later in the Summer.

Here’s the trail. The agency is Karmarama and the producer who made it for me is Gav Matthews at Kalua Creative.

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