TV and Digital Promotion: Agile Strategies for a New Media Ecology

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Cultures, Languages & Area Studie

Abstract

This project investigates the emergence of new kinds of promotional culture for the television industry in the digital media era, engaging with Britain's leading media and broadcast design company, Red Bee Media, and other media and communications companies, to explore the priorities and challenges of a key UK creative industry sector.

The development of a multichannel, multiplatform television environment has created new challenges for TV channels and media brands. With viewers able to choose between, and move across, a wide variety of digital channels, platforms and online services, the television industry has been obliged to find new ways to reach and engage increasingly fragmented audiences. Within this context, a burgeoning creative industry sector has emerged, specializing in brand communication, promotion and design. In seeking to capture and manage attention within a competitive media landscape, promotion has become a major component of TV output and broadcast design. This can range from promos that trail individual programmes and idents that brand channels/networks to new forms of branded and interactive content.

TV and digital promotion has become a particular area of creative industry strength in the UK. However, as a sector, it has been conspicuously overlooked in arts and humanities research. Red Bee Media is one of the world-leading companies in broadcast and digital media design, creating logos, idents, trailers, promos, on-screen graphics and interactive entertainment for TV companies and media brands in national and international markets. Formerly part of the BBC, Red Bee is unique in combining technological and creative services to broadcasters and brand owners. It was responsible in the 2000s for the brand identities of BBC One and UKTV, numerous international and digital channels, and the entire Olympic branding of the 2008 Beijing Games for the Chinese broadcaster CCTV. Red Bee is strategically positioned - and positions itself -as a company particularly able to respond to rapid changes in the media environment. This project engages in knowledge exchange with Red Bee in order to address a series of shared research concerns about media promotion in the digital age.

Through analysis of Red Bee's creative work practice (following the company's BBC Olympic work in 2012 among other case examples), the project facilitates industrial self-reflection about promotional work and Red Bee's creative leadership in the field. More specifically, the project explores the way that 'agility' is being sought and pursued in promotional terms. Agility has become an operative term for the way that TV/media brands, and the companies that sell them expertise, are striving to navigate viewers through a rich and complex media terrain. This will be further explored through workshop activities drawing together academics, telecommunications and digital media companies focused on the emergent (and agile) promotional form of 'social television.' Finally, the project will curate two events with the BFI that bring Red Bee together with Crystal CG (the company responsible for the digital promotion of the London Olympics) and other key figures in the production of television's promotional materials to open out public discussion about the artistic and cultural value of TV promotion and digital media design. The Olympics provides a topically relevant lens through which to explore promotional screen culture as digital and multiplatform strategies are central to the promotion of the London Games.

Following on from previously-funded AHRC research on branding and promotion in the film and television industry, this project will encourage a range of interactions between academics, industry practitioners and public audiences, generating knowledge and understanding about TV promotion as a professional discipline, as a form of screen content, and as a source of UK creative industry leadership.

Planned Impact

This Follow-on Funding will have an impact on Red Bee, Crystal CG and the digital media promotion sector more broadly; it will also enhance the activities of the British Film Institute and demonstrate the value of promotional screen forms to the wider public that engage with its services.

In a speech at Lancaster House in 2011, Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, said that the creative industries are paramount to the UK economy, referencing Crystal as an example of the kind of company that the UK attracts. According to Gilles Albaredes (MD Crystal CG International), the UK is the leading hub in the world for the creative industry sector of digital media design. Red Bee Media is indicative here; it is the largest UK company in a developing sector that stimulates both inward and outward investment.

Through knowledge exchange with Red Bee based on a shared research agenda, this project will facilitate industrial self-reflexivity about the ways in which Red Bee is positioned to respond to the need for media companies to be increasingly agile in their working practices and their promotional outputs amidst the rapid changes and uncertainties presented by the digital media environment. By offering analysis and reflection on the ways in which agility impacts on the creative work and outputs of this sector the project will foster Red Bee's global economic performance and enhance the quality of their creative output. The responsive knowledge exchange between Red Bee and the University of Nottingham enabled through this project will enhance Red Bee's 'thought leadership,' a key resource for a company working in 'a volatile climate, [where] trusted thinking and expert foresight can be gold dust.' (Red Bee, 2011). The knowledge co-production meetings scheduled across the project will enable initial benefits to be realised and responded to through the course of the research, summarised within the final report for Red Bee.

The impact of this research will be extended to other UK companies (including British Telecom and Atomic Media) through a hothouse focused specifically on the status and possibilities of social television. Social television is an emerging area that exploits new technologies to create mediated social experiences around television viewing. By bringing together key industry practitioners with academics from a range of disciplines (arts and humanities, computer science, business), the hothouse will generate new knowledge around the possibilities of social television that will inform professional practice and foster the economic competitiveness of UK industries in this growing field.

The research will also be disseminated more broadly across the industry through the Promax conference, the SCMS and MeCCSA conferences (which are regularly attended by practitioners) and at two public events at the BFI which will be marketed to those working in the industry, as well as the general public. The BFI hold the most comprehensive accessible archive of television programmes, with statutory provision to preserve the output of the UK's commercial terrestrial broadcasters. As most of its television collection is acquired through off-air recording it has a unique record of the interstitial promotional material shown between programmes. This project will facilitate new interactions between the BFI and key practitioners in the creation of such material (including Red Bee and Crystal CG) and will demonstrate to the BFI the archival and curatorial value of promotional artefacts in their collection. In addition, the events at the BFI will provide public access to promotional materials that are not widely available, building on the growing public interest in promotional screen forms. It will also facilitate dialogue and exchange between the producers and consumers of promotional screen content in order to enhance the broader cultural understanding of the role of digital media design and the processes of its creation.

Publications

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Grainge P (2015) "Show us your moves": trade rituals of television marketing in Arts and the Market

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Grainge P (2017) Ancillary academia: video shorts and the production of university paratexts in Critical Studies in Media Communication

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Grainge Paul (2015) Promotional Screen Industries

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Johnson, Catherine; Grainge, Paul (2015) Production Studies, The Sequel

 
Description Through knowledge exchange with Red Bee Media, we found that the boundaries between 'content' and 'promotion' are increasingly blurred. Forms of media promotion generally understood as peripheral or ancillary, such as trailers, promos, channel idents, companion applications, online video and various kinds of branded entertainment, are increasingly functioning as 'content' to be engaged with and enjoyed in their own right.

The blurring of promotion and content offers new opportunities and challenges for companies working across a range of creative industries, leading to the emergence of a new industrial sector providing expertise in the creation of promotional content. The emergent 'promotional screen industries' are made up of companies from a range of disciplines usually seen as distinct (film and television, advertising, digital and interactive media, design), combining existing companies in advertising, film and television that are responding to this emergent market, and new companies offering specialist expertise in areas such as consumer behaviour and digital technology.

A number of market challenges and opportunities exist for companies within the promotional screen industries, requiring agile approaches. Within broadcast and brand markets, social television, dual screening and companion apps are consistently identified as a potential area of growth. However, knowledge exchange between academics, telecommunications and digital media companies reveals that there is uncertainty about whether there is a mass market for social TV and second screening and what the revenue models for this market will be. Similarly, many potential brands are looking to develop what Red Bee Media has termed 'on-brand TV' - the use of online video to engage rather than interrupt consumers/audiences. However, brands often struggle understand this area or what it can offer and there are no industry standards for measuring effectiveness. The need to be able to respond flexibly online also challenges traditional models for planning and budgeting advertising campaigns, suggesting the need for new business models if this strategic means of responding to digital search culture is to take off.

Through staging an education event and two sell-out public events on 'The Art of TV Promotion and Design', we found that there is public interest in taking promotional screen culture seriously as an art form. There is, therefore, value to the BFI in exploiting its archival assets in promotional media for future public and educational events, as well as value for other public institutions in curating events around promotional screen culture.
Exploitation Route The exploration of the ways in which academics and organisations within the creative sector might exchange knowledge and collaborate has broader potential use for other organisations within the screen and related industries in demonstrating the benefits of such partnerships.

The research on the disciplinary practices of the promotional screen industries and the current challenges of the sector has potential use to those organisations working within this sector, inculding media agencies, advertising agencies, broadcasters, film and television studios, digital start-ups and trailer houses.

The collaboration with the British Film Institute demonstrated public interest in television design and digital promotion which has potential use for other heritage institutions that may hold similar collections related to screen promotion and design. In 2016, the Managing Director and Executive Creative Director of Red Bee Media, Andy Bryant and Charlie Mawer, published a book based on their experience as international UK leaders in the field of TV channel branding and programme marketing. Titled 'The TV Brand Builders: How to Win and Influence Viewers' (Kogan Page, 2016), this volume stands as a definitive account of the craft of television marketing and is the first of its kind by media practitioners. Our work with Bryant and Mawer is acknowledged as a driving factor in the conception and writing of the book, and is referenced extensively in the volume.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Other

URL http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/cfm/research/projects/tvanddigitalpromotion.aspx
 
Description Through engagement with key media practitioners, this project has: 1) generated new ways of thinking about the role of promotion that have influenced the BBC's use of online content by providing a new vocabulary for the ways in which the BBC can use and repurpose items from its archives and give them value as assets. 2) helped the UK's leading broadcast design company Red Bee Media (with a global client base including the BBC, UKTV, Virgin Media, CCTV and Discovery International) to develop strategic business planning in TV and digital promotion. 3) Through engagement with Red Bee personnel and projects, including 32 practitioner interviews, the research facilitated industrial self-reflection about disciplinary practice in the promotional screen industries. Knowledge exchange resulted in two internal reports to Red Bee's Creative division that informed strategic business planning and catalyzed industrial-academic collaboration in the emerging area of social television. 4) increased public understanding of the art and heritage of screen promotion through public events that have raised the visibility of the creative and professional discipline of promotional design. The project involved the curation of two sell-out panel events at the BFI Southbank focused on 'The Contemporary Art of TV Promotion and Design' and 'Pioneers of TV Promotion and Design', featuring the Executive Creative Directors of Red Bee and Crystal London, major industry figures, including Martin Lambie-Nairn and David Liddiment, and continuity announcers and trailer-makers from the 1960s including David Hamilton and Maurice Kanareck. These panels offered public audiences the opportunity to learn about the creative process of TV and digital promotion. Members of the public commented on the events being 'wonderful' and 'highly informative' with the 'archive promos being extraordinary'. Some said it was 'great to have an unexplored art form given prominence' and others encouraged 'more BFI joint sessions like this'. 5) informed educational content planning at the British Film Institute. Working with the BFI on two panel events enabled personnel within the BFI's television archive to digitally restore examples of historically valuable promotional texts for future public screenings and helped the BFI to identify new areas and attract new audiences. In addition, the panel events were preceded by a BFI masterclass for 15-25 year olds on ident and logo design, led by two creative directors from Red Bee. The masterclass was part of a broader competition in which young adults across the UK were invited to submit ideas for a logo/ident for the BFI's 'Future Film' educational programme. The masterclass was attended by fifty design students from colleges across the UK with feedback indicating that students would be more likely to consider a job creating logos and idents as a result of the masterclass. The award is an AHRC impact case study http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/research/casestudies/screen-industries/
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Education
Impact Types Cultural,Economic

 
Description Understanding the Multi-Screen Household
Amount £86,286 (GBP)
Organisation University of Nottingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2012 
End 10/2013
 
Description AHRC Branded Content Network 
Organisation Bournemouth University
Department Faculty of Media and Communication
PI Contribution Paul Grainge and Catherine Johnson are named key academic participants on this AHRC-funded network on branded content. On 19 January 2017 Catherine Johnson gave the keynote paper at the second seminar organised as part of this network on Industry/Academic Collaboration. As part of this event she also attended the project advisory board meeting and contributed to discussions about the planning of future events by the network.
Collaborator Contribution N/A
Impact Keynote paper: 'The Promotional Screen Industries and the Production of Branded Content' by Catherine Johnson, Industry-Academic Research Collaboration - Branded Content, Symposium organised by the AHRC Branded Content Network, Bournemouth University, 19 January 2017.
Start Year 2016
 
Description AHRC Branded Content Network 
Organisation University of East London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Paul Grainge and Catherine Johnson are named key academic participants on this AHRC-funded network on branded content. On 19 January 2017 Catherine Johnson gave the keynote paper at the second seminar organised as part of this network on Industry/Academic Collaboration. As part of this event she also attended the project advisory board meeting and contributed to discussions about the planning of future events by the network.
Collaborator Contribution N/A
Impact Keynote paper: 'The Promotional Screen Industries and the Production of Branded Content' by Catherine Johnson, Industry-Academic Research Collaboration - Branded Content, Symposium organised by the AHRC Branded Content Network, Bournemouth University, 19 January 2017.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Collaboration between media industry partners and Institute for Screen Industries Research (University of Nottingham) 
Organisation Red Bee Media
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The research developed both new and existing collaborations. Most significantly, it has significantly deepened collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the leading digital and communications company Red Bee Media, which was at the centre of all the research activities and events. Together with research collaboration outlined in the impact summary, Red Bee has developed partnership initiatives with the University in the area of talent incubation and teaching and learning. Specifically, Red Bee and the Institute for Screen Industries Research (ISIR) at the University of Nottingham have established an annual internship for students, with two students spending 6 weeks in paid work at the company during 2012 and 2013. The Director of Creative, Andy Bryant, has also been made a fellow of the ISIR and has given talks and guest lectures on promotion, careers and the creative industries to the Creative Student Network. Extending from the social television hothouse, a key industry-academic event organized as part of the award, new collaborations have developed between Red Bee Media, Thinkbox, British Telecom, and Ofcom, all of whom are participating in a major audience project on the multi-screen household, funded by the RCUK Horizon Digital Economy hub. This event also facilitated collaboration between academics within various disciplines within the University of Nottingham, especially between film and television studies, business studies and computer science.
Start Year 2012
 
Description 'Connecting Viewers to Content: the role of promotional screen industries in the transformation of broadcasting' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Paper on the role of promotional intermediaries such as Red Bee Media in the contemporary television and digital media environment, focusing on promotional work for the BBC's Planet Earth LIve. This was presented at a major International conference on Transformations in Broadcasting, University of Leeds, July, 2012

Research networks
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Business engagement workshop on 'spreadable marketing' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Business engagement workshop with 24 SMEs in Nottingham and Midlands to catalyse business thinking about the use of content marketing strategy, resulting in workshop discussion and 1-to-1 consultancy with one company, helping to tailor video content marketing for garden design business. A video about the impact arising from the consultancy can be found here: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/arts/arts-into-business/arts-into-business.aspx. Following the success of the 'spreadable marketing' workshop in 2016, the event was delivered again in September 2017 to a further 20 SME, with 1-to-1 consultancy developed with a larger local financial service company.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://ingenuitygateway.com/spreadable-marketing/
 
Description Ident Masterclass with Red Bee Media 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This BFI masterclass on ident and logo design was led by two creative directors from Red Bee Media and preceded the two public panel events on 'the art of television promotion and digital design' listed separately. The event was organized as part of the BFI's Future Film educational programme and was open to 15-25 year olds. The masterclass was attended by fifty design students from colleges ranging from Ravensbourne to Edinburgh Napier, and provided insight into the creative practice of promotional design. The masterclass was linked to a broader competition in which young adults across the UK were invited to submit ideas for a logo/ident for the BFI's 'Future Film' educational programme.

Feedback questionnaires reported impact on thinking and career aspirations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Nottingham International Microfilm Festival: Summit Day on Branded Content 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An academic-industry event exploring the emerging practice of branded content, with keynotes and panel discussion from industry experts from UK, Germany and China, and a showcase of branded content festival winners by the organizers of the Cannes Lions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.nimfestival.com/
 
Description Pioneers of TV Promotion and Design 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was one of two public panel events held at the BFI Southbank as part of the BFI's Autumn programme. Curated by Grainge/Johnson with the BFI, the two events focused on 'the art of television promotion and digital design.' These aimed to elucidate how and why television promos, idents and digital animations are made and explore the creative decisions that set the tone for particular shows and channels, both now and in the past.



This second event brought together producers, designers and continuity announcers who were responsible for creating programme trailers and channel idents for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in 1960s, 70s and 80s. It offered public audiences the opportunity to see rarely seen archival materials, and to hear from pioneers in the art of TV promotion and design. The panel featured David Hamilton (Presenter & Continuity Producer), Martin Lambie-Nairn (Branding and Idents supremo) & Maurice Kanareck (Former Producer BBC & ITV Promos dept).



This event was sold out and attended by 125 people.

Feedback questionnaires reported enhanced understanding and appreciation of promotional design
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The Contemporary Art of TV Promotion and Design 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was one of two public panel events held at the BFI Southbank as part of the BFI's Autumn programme. Curated by Grainge/Johnson with the BFI, the two events focused on 'the art of television promotion and digital design.' These aimed to elucidate how and why television promos, idents and digital animations are made and to explore the creative decisions that set the tone for particular shows and channels, both now and in the past.



This first event offered public audiences the opportunity to learn about the creative process of TV and digital promotion in the present, drawing on examples of BBC channel and programme branding (Sherlock and Doctor Who) and promotional design work for the London 2012 Olympics. This included lavishly illustrated presentations from Charlie Mawer (Red Bee Media) and Will Case (Crystal London), and discussion with David Liddiment (Former Director of Programmes & Channels ITV). The event was chaired by Steve Hewlett (media consultant & broadcaster).



This event was sold out and attended by 125 people

Feedback questionnaires reported enhanced understanding and appreciation of promotional design
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The Promotional Screen Industries 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Invited guest lecture to postgraduarte and academic community at the University of East Anglia, presenting research based on fieldwork with Red Bee Media

Stimulated research symposium on titles, teasers and trailers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012