CAMPAIGNS: Sky’s alien TV concept hits the spot - Entertainment PR

Client: Sky Television

Client: Sky Television

Campaign: Launch of The Strangerers

PR Team: Sky One Publicity and The Wright Partnership

Timescale: August 1999 - 15 February 2000

Budget: Undisclosed

For the first time in its history, Sky Television commissioned the

creation of a ten-part sitcom. The Strangerers was conceived by Red

Dwarf writer, Rob Grant. It is being tagged as a sci-fi road comedy and

centres on the coming to Earth of two alien vegetables, played by comedy

actor and chat show host Jack Docherty, and Mark Williams of BBC’s The

Fast Show.


To position Sky, long considered merely a buyer and importer of comedy

shows, as a creator of new television comedy and to attract a large

audience for the start of the series.

To generate favourable press coverage and an awareness of the

forthcoming series. To support a concerted marketing/advertising


Strategy and Plan

The Wright Partnership and Sky One Publicity met series creator Rob

Grant, and the series’ director to discuss how an integrated PR and

marketing strategy could be formulated that would mirror the essence of

the series.

Wright came up with a design and style that would be used throughout all

areas of the series promotion.

The core audience was seen to be predominantly male 18-to 35-year olds,

and so a range of media were targeted that reflected this, including

national press and men’s magazines.

Because in the series the alien protagonists of the comedy had learned

everything they knew about Earth from watching 1950s B-movies, it was

decided that information would be disseminated to the press as if it

came from a secret Government ’mole’ - leaking information on the

aliens’ imminent arrival.

Journalists were invited to a vegetable juice-bar in Covent Garden and

met by a ’nameless’ person who handed over press-packs made to look like

top-secret government dossiers. These disclosed details of the series

and provided a mystery phone contact for further information.

They were then driven to a secret location for a top level briefing.

On departure from the film-set the press were handed photographs of

themselves taken while they were outside the juice-bar, letting them

know they were under observation.

On 12 February, members of the public were approached by people dressed

up as Preacherers, a variation on the alien characters in the show, on

the streets of London and handed flyers telling them to watch the skies

for an alien invasion the evening of the 15th - the date of the first


To back up the media coverage of the various stunts an interactive web

site, designed in-house at Sky, was dedicated to The Strangerers. Sky’s

interim results were presented on a CD-ROM that used images and artwork

from the programme, and billboard advertising was used across the


Measurement and Evaluation

There was coverage in national newspapers, including the Guardian, the

Daily Telegraph and the Sun, and various listings titles, including Sky

Now and What Satellite TV. Men’s consumer magazines Loaded, Front and

Esquire also featured the programme, as did SFX Magazine. Coverage

featured interviews with the stars and the series’ creator, Rob Grant,

as well as information on the programme itself.

The first broadcast of The Strangerers attracted the highest number of

viewers for a debut performance on UK satellite television, peaking at

around 700,000.


The Strangerers campaign was a successful integration of PR and

marketing, the Wright Partnership and Sky One Publicity working in close

collaboration throughout. The media appreciated the off-beat aspect of

the campaign and entered into the spirit of it, although there have been

mixed reviews of the programme.

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