What was the campaign, in a nutshell?
On 17 September, Sky Arts became available on Freeview for the first time as part of a renewed mission to drive access to, and participation in, culture. To mark this launch, the Hope&Glory team developed a collaboration with world-renowned US photographic artist Spencer Tunick. In the midst of the global pandemic, we wanted to create a campaign that captured and challenged the moment.
How did the idea come into being?
Art is all too often perceived as highbrow or inaccessible. Sky wanted to show that, through Sky Arts, everyone could participate.
Given the nature of his work and his famed focus on naked human bodies brought together at huge scale – often involving thousands – we could think of no better artist than Spencer Tunick to create a debate about involvement with art, especially today.
Known for his work that brings people together wearing absolutely nothing, we felt it would be compelling to have a socially-distanced installation of people wearing only striking face masks in clean white. A comment on the current era, and on the arts' ability to adapt and for creativity to continue.
Thankfully, Spencer agreed that the vision we arrived at together was a compelling one.
What ideas were rejected?
A brief around accessibility and participation naturally leads to ideas about bringing people together physically.
However, at the time of the brief, the UK was still restricted in its ability to move – museums hadn’t yet reopened and guidelines around gatherings continued to impose strict limits. That meant any ideas involving indoor spaces and open access to the general public were automatically off the table.
Briefly describe the campaign planning and process.
The idea involved gathering 220 naked participants in one space for Spencer to create a new masterpiece: Everyone Together. In the end we decided to do the installation at Alexandra Palace – a famous site in British broadcasting history and appropriate, given the aim of the campaign.
Hope&Glory developed the strategy and creative idea, and managed the execution – including generating the all-important results.
Normally Spencer would work with his own team of 10 to 12, but they were US-based and we needed the installation to take place in the UK, which meant we had to become his team. We brought in the team at Jubba to help manage logistics in the lead-up to and on the day, ensuring everything we did was COVID-safe and participants were well looked-after.
Alexandra Palace was brave enough to allow us to use space in the park for this shoot and supported by providing security for the site.
What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
To activate a large-scale creative campaign in the middle of a global pandemic threw up many challenges, especially around the changing rules related to COVID-19 and the gathering of people. The priority was the safety of the participants, the crew and, of course, Spencer, which meant we had to build social distancing into every element – from how participants arrived to where they undressed, and how we moved them into position.
How did you measure the results?
The story is still going, with more results expected over the coming days.
We’re looking at both outputs (the media and social coverage) and outcomes (increased propensity to view and viewership).
The media coverage to date has been outstanding, with over 130 pieces in outlets including The Guardian, The Sun, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Metro and the Evening Standard, BBC News, Sky News, BBC Radio 2, Heart and Magic, along with a host of consumer and regional titles.
The installation has also gone global, with pick-up in the US, Canada, Thailand and Japan.
Some initial, dipstick research, showed that more than four in 10 (41 per cent) of higher-income households saw the campaign on the launch day and the vast majority (87 per cent) of those exposed (so to speak) said it increased their awareness of Sky Arts’ launch on Freeview.
What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?
That bravery pays and has its rewards. There was a real risk that, having invested in the campaign at the outset, we would never have pulled this off – or that there would be a backlash against it. As a brand, Sky Arts bought into the concept and everyone worked together in a real spirit of partnership to mitigate the risks. Even in the midst of pandemic the PR industry can pull off bold work and dominate conversation as a result.
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