Campaigns: Entertainment - Channel rebrand puts fun back into comedy

Campaign: Rebrand of Paramount Comedy
Client: Paramount Comedy/Comedy Central
PR team: Eulogy
Timescale: March-July 2009
Budget: Less than £50,000

TV channel Paramount Comedy rebranded to Comedy Central in April. The aim was to improve viewer loyalty and establish Comedy Central as a dedicated modern comedy TV brand in the UK.

Objectives

- To increase ratings by ten per cent

- To achieve ten million viewers per month

- To change perceptions of the channel as a second choice channel to that of a destination channel

- To increase traffic to the Comedy Central website.

Strategy and plan

The theme of the campaign was of comedy superstars 'invading' famous UK landmarks.

Eulogy developed a campaign around the principle that the need to invade the UK with top comedy and laughter was greater than ever as the nation faced a 'dearth of mirth' crisis.

The rebrand was positioned as offering much-needed relief to humour-starved audiences. This also allowed the channel to engage advertisers and show them the benefits of their brand being associated with a channel communicating a positive message.

To incorporate social media into the strategy and reach 16- to 34-year-olds, Eulogy used exclusive content previews from shows to engage bloggers and online influencers.

Four news stories were drip-fed to national and regional print, broadcast and online media around the themes of the dearth of mirth, the UK Laugh Graph, the theme of a 'joke recession' and a Flash Prank Friday stunt.

The latter was based on the idea of a flash mob and encouraged office workers to inject humour into their workplaces and post pranks on a dedicated Facebook page.

To maintain interest online and on social media sites, the PR team used events such as Susan Boyle's appearance on South Park to keep the momentum going.

Meanwhile, a trade campaign involved a series of stories around the rebrand, the marketing activity behind it and the new website, along with in-depth profiles of the channel and the team behind the rebrand.

To engage internal audiences, a video diary was created showing the various stages of campaign planning, followed by an internal launch party. All staff members also took part in the Flash Prank Friday initiative.

Measurement and evaluation

The campaign generated 128 pieces of coverage, including eight national pieces, 43 online pieces on blogs and social networks and 32 articles in trade publications.

In total, 87 per cent of articles featured a quote from Comedy Central representatives, which helped position the executive team as 'experts'.

Results

The channel's ratings increased 50 per cent year on year and peak time viewing increased by 65 per cent. Website page impressions increased by 50 per cent.

SECOND OPINION - LISA BRADLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, PEGASUS PR

Rebranding a comedy channel in the middle of one of the deepest recessions in recent memory has got to be a challenge. The team at Eulogy rose to the challenge with a variety of different tactics based on the insight that we are currently surrounded by doom and gloom in the media. The results speak for themselves. The impressive 87 per cent presence of Comedy Central quotes enabled control of campaign messages and the ratings increase will be extremely powerful for the channel at a time when TV advertising money is at its most scarce.

The team managed to capture the essence of the brand with its overarching theme of the 'dearth of mirth' and the well-chosen media themes of 'joke recession' and UK Laugh Graph. The online tactics were also bang on target for the 16 to 34 market, mixing irreverence and engaging social media content with current TV phenomena such as Susan Boyle. It was good to see the campaign also included activity aimed at internal audiences - sometimes a rebranding can be perceived as an external marketing tool, but the team took steps to engage the strongest advocates of any brand, the employees.

Flash Prank Friday was a brave decision. In today's ultra-PC world, it could have been faced with a public backlash to failed pranks, but this appears to have been a great success and added to the general desire to rediscover our infamous sense of humour. It is an excellent, fun-filled campaign that is hard to fault.

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