CAMPAIGN: Space hop gains viewers for UKTV Gold

UKTV Gold's recent success was inspired by nostalgia-focused shows and Les Dennis. Read on...

Campaign: UKTV space hopper challenge
Client: UKTV Gold
PR Team: Taylor Herring
Timescale: April 2007
Budget: £15,000

At the start of April, digital and satellite TV channel UKTV unveiled a new schedule featuring several nostalgia-focused shows such as Jim’ll Fix It Strikes Again and the panel show TV Then And Now, hosted by Les Dennis.

The move also coincided with a new set of idents featuring a UKTV Gold branded space hopper as a logo. To promote these changes, Taylor Herring was asked to create a one-off news story that would appeal to national and reg­ional broadcast, magazine and newspaper media alike.

To raise awareness of the new schedule and idents as well as the UKTV brand among viewers and the mainstream media, with the aim of boosting viewing figures.

Strategy and plan
To enhance in-house PR activity ­already underway for the new programmes and idents, Taylor Herring had decided to organise a world record- breaking attempt for the most people involved in a simultaneous space hopper bounce.

Using 600 UKTV Gold branded space hoppers, the aim was to stage an event that would appeal to broadcast media and picture editors, as well as break the world record of 551 people taking part in a simultaneous space hop, set by Bath schoolchildren in 2003.

The visual impact of the venue was crucial, so it was decided to use London’s Millennium Bridge, which has a background of St Paul’s Cathedral on one side and the Tate Modern on the other. After securing permission from the City of London authorities, Taylor Herring had to carry out a series of health and safety tests during two weeks of preparation prior to the event to ensure the bridge could handle the weight.

Pre-event publicity was vital to encourage the public to take part. Websites aimed at young adults were targeted and a Myspace page was created where people could sign up. More than 50 extra UKTV branded space hoppers were given to the media as competition giveaways and leaflets were handed out in London parks.

The event was scheduled for 9am on Sunday, 15 April. The City of London had given permission to use the bridge but not to close it, so it was crucial that the attempt ran smoothly and caused minimum disruption.

Measurement and evaluation
Pre-event publicity included articles in London Lite and the Evening Standard as well as radio items on Xfm’s Drivetime and BBC Radio 2’s Wake Up To Wogan., Guinness World Records online and celebrity gossip site Popbitch also promoted the event, which went ahead without a hitch and successfully broke the world record.

Nationally the event itself was covered by among others OK! magazine, The Guardian and the Daily Star. Regional coverage included the Daily Record, the Evening Standard and ITV’s London Tonight. In addition 20 websites, including Yahoo! and BBC Online, and regional radio stations including BBC Radio Cambridgeshire also covered the event.

On the day of the event and the preceding three days, UKTV Gold achieved an average audience of 1.7 million, an increase of seven per cent on April’s average of 1.6 million per day. OK! picture editor Amanda Davies said: ‘It was a really interesting image, perfect for our World In Action pages.’


Olly Swanton (above),
founder of consumer digital press and promotions agency Way to Blue: Visually, this is an arresting campaign that ties in well with the channel’s ethos. Attem­p­ting to break a Guinness World Record can be an overused hook but this campaign stands out because of the speed with which it was pulled off. The Taylor Herring team seems to have hit the brief perfectly by incorporating the ident images as the channel logo and the ‘golden age’ aspect of the toys themselves.

Every client feels the need to do a flashmob – it’s a rite of digital passage – but few do it more than once. We have a film client that did it three years ago and our music clients got excited about this four years ago.

That said, it’s no easy feat to get attention from such a wide cross-section of the media, from the nationals to the glossies, TV and radio. Taylor Herr­ing struck a real chord with its choice of iconic setting, particu­larly with the London media.

Social networking sites such as My­space are certain­ly used by a much larger majority of over-25s than some people may exp­ect, but it is the younger end of the market that really spreads videos virally or interacts with an un­known brand page. PROs need to realise that pla­cing a video or setting up a page is just the begin­ning.

Nevertheless, the fact that near­ly 700 people turned up, causing both a space hopper shortage and a new world record, means that this story has a real lasting effect, and UKTV Gold should be very plea­sed with the result.

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