Client: Channel 4 drama Gas Attack
PR Team: C4 in-house PR
Campaign: Gas Attack
Timescale: From filming in May to transmission last week
Budget: Within departmental budget
This one-off Channel 4 drama about an anthrax attack began life more
than two years ago, long before the tragic events of 11 September. The 8
October scheduling, agreed in August, meant it went out as the US
investigated an anthrax incident in Florida.
At one point it was possible to switch between the drama and BBC news
coverage of the Florida investigation.
This was one of C4's most important dramas of the year. However, the PR
also had to get across that this was a serious drama which had been
meticulously researched during a two-year period and not quickly put
together or opportunistically scheduled.
Strategy and Plan
During filming in May, C4 organised a press trip to see the production
in progress in Scotland to get the documentary-nature of the project
The film was first shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival to establish it
as a serious project. In the run-up to transmission, preview tapes and
press information were sent out, while involved C4 press officers placed
calls to get across the key messages.
Measurement and Evaluation
The channel says results were 100 per cent positive, with the film
getting some of the best previews for some time.
Crucially, there were no accusations of scare-mongering or cashing in on
either the global situation or the US atrocities. The overnight audience
figures of 1.1 million were respectable.
The film presented the press office with some tricky PR challenges.
Ordinarily the film's prescience would have been highlighted, but in
this case the PR team had to avoid the timing and subject-matter
back-firing. In this they were successful by recognising and addressing
the issue head-on via PR activity.