MEDIA CAMPAIGN: Sky One puts Ross Kemp on the front line

Fresh from winning a Bafta for his Gangs ... series on Sky One, former EastEnders hardman Ross Kemp and his team headed to Afghanistan's deep south to follow British troops.

Afghanistan adventure: Ross Kemp
Afghanistan adventure: Ross Kemp

Campaign: Ross Kemp in Afghanistan
Client: Sky One and Sky One HD
PR Team: Way to Blue
Timescale: January-February 2008
Budget: £10,000

Rejecting normal lightweight field cameras, Kemp's production crew opted to take special high-resolution kit that would provide detailed footage for Sky One's HD channel. The cameras cost over £100,000 each, and were considerably heavier than the non-HD equivalent, but the extra dimension given by the higher quality of the footage meant more could be done with it than simply broadcasting it via TV.

With this in mind, Sky One called in Way to Blue to run an online campaign boosting awareness of Kemp's experiences on Afghanistan's front line.

To complement Sky One's print and broadcast campaigns. To increase exposure of Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, and to encourage people to watch the show.

Strategy and plan
The agency used a two-phase online campaign, firstly to generate word-of-mouth publicity and then to entice viewers to watch each episode.

Ross KempSocial networking sites proved an effective resource, with editors of groups such as Ross Kemp's Appreciation Society on Facebook and EastEnders fan sites drip-fed press releases and editorial.

Military sites such as the MoD were sent press releases, along with photographs of Kemp, and eight features were written for online newsletters such as FHM, Nuts and Zoo.

Two HD teaser clips, which also profiled the first use of HD footage on British TV for a war scenario, ramped up interest levels for each episode.

The first two-minute clip was given to Media Guardian, Times Online,, AOL and Zoo. This gave four days of coverage before transmission of each episode. Another preview clip was sent to Yahoo, Orange, MSN, YouTube and the Radio Times website.

The team also targeted men's magazines such as Maxim and the British Army's Solider. End-cards were used on seven of the teasers to remind the audience of the time, date and channel of the next episode.

Sites that weren't equipped to play the clips were encouraged to redirect viewers to YouTube.

Measurement and evaluation
The video was critically well received, with responses such as 'thought- provoking stuff' from Orange and 'stark wake-up call' from Digital Spy. The success was also measured by the amount of coverage and video views, which was then broken down into the number of people who clicked on to view the clip or on to a service site to access the clip.

Footage of an interview with Kemp and the teaser campaign attracted more than 170,000 video views during the campaign. More than 742,000 subscribers read the newsletter features. In total, 44 pieces of coverage were secured across UK entertainment, lifestyle, news, military and TV websites.

The campaign delivered a 10:1 return on investment and reached over 5.8 million people.

The first episode alone reached two million viewers, putting it third behind BBC One and ITV1, but ultimately the Monday 9pm slot was the highest ranking in all of Sky's programming, even beating the BBC for some episodes.

Sarah Locke, chief executive of specialist media sector PR agency Braben

The first thing that struck me about this campaign was the clarity of the brief and the campaign response. A well-known TV personality experiencing war-torn Afghanistan from the front line, in a war zone for the first time, has been shot on HD by a forward-thinking media client with a dedicated digital PR brief.

Sarah Locke, chief executive, BrabenAll the ingredients were there for a tightly focused campaign, which complemented a traditional broadcast PR approach with a strong online presence through-out the transmission of the series.

This campaign followed an important rule by making the most of a broadcaster's programming content. It used a well thought-through strategy and structure, covering the social networks and specialist interest groups.

It also provided high-quality AV material to media hungry for this type of content. By taking the highly visual aspects of the series and packaging these to the key audiences, it allowed the online campaign to provide relevant, high-quality entertainment to the people most interested.

With a bit more budget Way to Blue could have created a dedicated portal, perhaps syndicated opportunities for Kemp interviews live online, and made more of any available behind-the-scenes footage.

In addition, to cover all media platforms, the campaign's creative elements could have been tailored to work as mobile phone-compatible content.

This would have driven awareness and maximised the opportunities on and around transmission.

Overall, this was a great return on the budget available. It clearly demonstrates the results in views and clicks for the client against the investment made. It also reflects the value of having a focused brief and campaign to maximise every media platform.

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