It’s Showtime


It’s officially the countdown to Christmas as the TV channels in the UK all showcase their wares for Christmas.

Every year, the channels try to find ever more inventive ways of showcasing the vast array of content available. Last year, BBC One had a singing and dancing spectacular – and loads of Christmas Jumpers. And BBC Two had this wonderful animation.

This year, it’s down to a vast array of BBC One talent again – in a really nice concept called “It’s Showtime”. It’s down to Rob Brydon to gather together an all-star cast for the biggest show of the year. In the trail, we see stars like Mrs Brown and the cast of BBC One shows “Call the Midwife” and “Outnumbered” alongside some iconic stars of the channel (including the TARDIS and Del Boy’s van). There’s also people like David Walliams, Miranda Hart, Matt Smith, Lee Mack, Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood, and the cast of EastEnders.

Here’s Part 1

And here’s Part 2

It’s a really fun concept – probably a nightmare to organise – which really shows the sense of fun that BBC One gathers together for Christmas. And nice to see it backed up with some great clip based trails too..

It’s good to see that the BBC can still surprise and entertain with all the distractions of the past few months. It was created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and commissioned by Aoife Liyanage and the team at BBC Creative Marketing.

Time to look again at online video?

Image from

My former GCap Media boss Dirk Anthony shared this article yesterday.

According to the article, YouTube’s skippable ads now make Google “as much revenue per hour as ads on cable TV”. That’s according to YouTube’s global head of content Robert Kyncl.

This is a huge deal. The talk of platforms such as Apple and Google eventually becoming a new way of consumers consuming content are long gone. These platforms are already there – and by logic, will overtake the traditional platforms in a matter of years. The question is – what are traditional broadcasters (and I mean TV and radio), doing about this?

Now some will argue that advertising online is dead as viewers can simply skip it. This is what is happening on TV. Currently most TV I watch is recorded on my Hard Disk recorder. I can skip AD breaks at the touch of a button – so never need to see them. And with the content I watch on iPlayer – I never see trails for programmes since they are only broadcast on the linear TV platforms.

But viewers skip ads don’t they?

According to Robert Kyncl at YouTube:

 We’re making ads optional. Users can skip them if they don’t like them. That’s a big deal. When advertisers pay only when ads are watched – and when viewers are watching only the ads that they care about – they won’t and they don’t mind paying.

Therefore – the ads and trails that they watch are ones that interest and engage them. And whilst this post is about visual content, radio promotions need to be equally efficient at doing this too.

The argument should be – how do we hook the consumer in to watching the ads or trails? Are we intriguing them? Are we exciting them? And is there some clarity to tell them what we’re selling them?

With YouTube ads, it’s pretty easy to integrate extra targeted overlays. This technique could be particularly useful for relevant Tx details which could be targeted to viewers.

Since people like the BBC now have YouTube channels, you’d guess that pretty soon, we should be expecting relevant programme trails to be scheduled to appear here – around the content that already exists. There needs to be a way where potential audiences to linear programming become aware of it on digital platforms. And whilst there are no trails on iplayer at the moment, surely there needs to be some thought as to how content is promoted to BBC online viewers on that platform. The argument up to now has been that people must always opt in to auto playing content. I think this is sensible since not everyone wants it. But maybe the ability to opt in would be useful.

As long as its relevant and targeted, it’s unlikely I’d skip it. Agree or disagree. Let me know..


Would Kenny Everett be allowed to flourish in radio now?


Last week, I watched a wonderful drama about the life of the radio producer and broadcaster Kenny Everett.

For those of you born in the late 80s, or who aren’t from the UK, Kenny Everett was an amazingly creative radio broadcaster with an almost bottomless imagination. I never heard his shows on the radio. In fact, I never really watched his TV shows since my Mum thought he was a little vulgar.

He was an amazingly creative broadcaster who created a sonic world out of his imagination. All without digital editors, keyboards, and computer plugins – but a highly creative brain and some pretty deft production tools – using tape and multitrack recorders and pretty much any sound effect creating device he could find. And of course, a cast of thousands from one man’s voice.

There are numerous sites dedicated to him – this one seems a good starting place.

He made jingles for his shows. He wrote and produced promos. And he did it all himself.

And he broke all the rules. In fact, he was sacked many times for breaking those rules.

But how would radio in 2012 have reacted to this broadcaster? Would they have let him flourish or would they have trimmed his wings so that his creative expression was tamed? It’s interesting that the station that hired him after his sacking from the BBC was Capital Radio. Back then, when Capital started, it was a station that had everything to win. It took risks, had a range of shows from rock to classical, and it was huge. Here was a broadcaster that was also larger than life and took loads of creative risks.

What would Kenny have made with the laborious compliance process? Would it have curtailed his creative journey – or would the rules and regulations actually have helped him to refine his comedy?

One thing is clear – there is a real need for someone like Kenny in radio these days. Maybe someone to work in your creative or imaging department or maybe someone on air. Without people like Kenny, radio is slightly less interesting. If you have never heard any of his shows or production, you should take a listen – you might learn something.

Make That Change


There are some times in your career when you need to make a change.

Sometimes it’s because an amazing job comes up. Sometimes it’s for personal reasons. And sometimes (and more and more often), its because it’s enforced. When these times of change come along, you can either bury your head in the sand and despair. Or you can embrace the change and see it as a force for good.

Next month, I’m leaving the BBC.

It’s been a hard decision to make but one that is right; for me, for the family and for various other reasons. I’ll post news of where I’m going and what I’m doing next week.

Throughout my career, I’ve almost always been involved in hands on radio production. Whether producing programmes and events, managing production teams or co-ordinating projects. This is what I love doing and this is what makes the day to day job worth doing.

Ever since I left Capital FM in London in 2008, I’ve been working outside of radio stations.

I worked on documentaries for Wise Buddah. I created imaging for a production service and shows like the Ronnie Wood Show whilst at Puretonic Media. And for the last 2 and a half years, I’ve worked across some pretty challenging marketing projects on radio as part of BBC Creative Marketing.

But every job has taken me away from day to day radio.

And each job has required fewer of my core craft skills to be utilised.

Now, one can argue that as you progress in a career, you’d normally expect to do less doing and more managing. And this has certainly been the case with my current job. And it brings both challenges and rewards. But also it brings frustrations. I’ve sometimes had to manage the creative process when deep down, I’ve really wanted to make the finished product myself. In fact, recently, I was worried that I was beginning to lose some of the creative craft skills I’ve developed over many years simply by lack of “doing”.

So the new job is in some ways a step sideways. But the rewards that it will give me personally are far greater. Greater personal satisfaction. More family time. And a broadening of my production network too, as some of it will have an International element.

So, if you’re sitting in a job and are getting frustrated, maybe it’s time to think back to what it was that attracted you to radio in the first place. Are you still getting your creative buzz from what you do now. If you are – that’s great. But if not, then what are you going to do about it?

Thinking Big


Sometimes you just need to add and add to an idea.This new Ad from Heineken does just that. Why drink at just any old bar? Open your world! It’s thinking big on a huge scale..!

Music: Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes – Love Letter
Director: Martin Krejci

Mobile Link here

Originally found at Ads of the World

Inventing a solution


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

Mobile link

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.

Mobile link:

The Students are in town..


Image from Bradford City of Film

The Student Radio Association is hosting it’s 2012 conference in Bradford. I think I came to a student radio here when I was at Uni – indeed it may have been the one when I won my student radio award – back in 1992. Then again, it could have be en Hull – we went there too. Wherever it was, it wasn’t as big as this conference.

In fact, there’s very little I remember from that conference, apart from a talk from a record plugging company, a panel with Liz Kershaw (who presented the awards) and a load of drinking. And I think we borrowed a few traffic cones. But that could have been the conference at Hatfield Uni. Again – its blurry. And I’m sure they borrowed them back when the conference came to Canterbury..

The conference in Bradford is a whole world away from that one:
There’s a search for the voice of the awards (previous entrants have ended up being used as Radio 1 station voices). There’s Demo Factor – where students face a judging panel to give them real honest feedback. Plus panels from loads of industry professionals ranging from news to show production to engineering and of course marketing and promotions (10am on the Tuesday btw..)

What’s exciting from events like these is that people are still excited by a career in radio. Sure, some want to be on air but many want to get involved in producing radio too. And it’s great to see a whole host of former student radio people who now work in radio giving up time to contribute to panels and discussions. There’s a full list here

The most important thing you’ll learn at events like this is the power of networking. Talk to people. Listen to people. And remember that those people will sometimes know the people that you really want to get to know. Build relationships online with these people – you never know when they could be a doorway to the one introduction that gets you into the job that you really want.

And don’t steal the traffic cones.

A break from the Norm

How many times are you tempted to fall back on the same routines? How often do you approach creative challenges with the same, often predictable solution? I suggest that the answer it yes – on both counts – in many situations. This is totally understandable in many cases. We all have huge pressures on our time these days – and sometimes it’s easier just to get jobs out of the door. But don’t let that become the norm.

I’m working on a project that encompasses almost every part of the organisation I work for. It will involve programming on radio, on Tv and an equally large body of content that will live online. The creative brief was challenging – but the solution has been surprising – putting a contemporary filter over very traditional content. It’s taken bold decision-making to make it happen. And the challenge for me has been to try to make the radio part feel relevant – rather than overly traditional – but also accessible to a wide range of audiences – and to sound relevant to the station sound on a range of radio networks. The project delivers at the end of the week – and I’ll share he tv and radio creative (along with the story behind it) once its on air.

The problem with breaking creative boundaries is that you have to be brave and take risks.

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to work with Programme Directors who have been very creative – and loved to try new things. And I’ve worked with a couple who have not. Some ideas led to ratings success and were celebrated. Others led to audience indifference and were swiftly dropped. But whatever the outcome, they always needed someone with the balls to say yes.

It’s easy to push back on highly creative ideas. They may cost too much. They may be too risky. They may be challenging to your peers or the people you are trying to impress as you line yourself up for your next job. But sometimes, you need to go with a gut feeling.

If you aspire to work somewhere truly creative – you need to take creative risks once in a while. Are you brave enough to do that..?

Boom! The New Capital FM Breakfast Show Ad

95.8 Capital FM just send me this on Twitter – the new advert for the newly relaunched Capital Breakfast Show. It’s a variation of their music brand video – but as well as the core artists they play, it also features the new breakfast show hosts. And the artists they play are all “endorsing” up breakfast and the presenters.

Earlier in the day, someone shared a link to the updated TV advert for the rest of the Capital FM network. And as before, there are regional variations for the different markets.

What I like about both of these is the consistency. They are updated versions of the advert they used last year to promote the launch of the Capital FM network. I wrote about that last January. They have taken a seemingly simple idea and they have stuck with it – adapting it and freshening it up – but not tempted to change it or go for something new.

It’s pretty rare in marketing for brands to have the bottle to keep things consistent – there are always tweaks, whether to a logo or a creative idea. Strong, simple ideas always work well. Just look at the ad campaigns for Go Compare or We Buy Any Car Dot Com. Whilst they may be annoying, they are annoyingly catchy.

Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon - hosts of 95.8 Capital FM Breakfast

What the team at Global have done is take an idea that imprints the names of the artists at the centre of everything they do. They use them to endorse the station. They use them to promote their big events. And they now have used them to promote their biggest show. And judging by what I heard this morning, this show aims to be a big hitter. The mix of music, humour and energy was pretty much perfect this morning. News was punchy, travel was quick and on target. And they had the fastest “Pay Your Bills” execution I’ve ever heard anywhere.

Boom! – the breakfast wars are back on..!