Creative in association withGear Seven

Uncommon Studios' First Work for ITV is Full of Character

Advertising Agency
London, UK
Oscar-winning director James Marsh elevates ITV characters with cinematic campaign
Uncommon Creative Studio has unveiled its first work for ITV since their appointment last year to work alongside ITV Marketing and ITV Creative on future-facing brand strategy, to ensure that ITV’s wealth of programmes reaches as many viewers as possible on TV and all other mobile devices, with a specific focus on driving reappraisal and attracting light ITV viewers. ‘Great Characters Make Great Drama’ is the first in a series of campaigns celebrating the powerful characters, stories and creativity that ITV has beyond our screens.

The new strategic thinking from Uncommon (More Than TV) aims to highlight ITV’s belief in the power of creativity to lift people and culture, and the emotional power of great TV content. 

Revealed by Chief Executive Carolyn McCall at ITV’s Palooza last year, ITV creates ‘More Than TV’ – everyday ITV entertain millions, grow brands and shape culture. Creating programmes which truly moves people, grips the nation and starts conversations.

‘Great Characters Make Great Drama’ celebrates the impact great drama has on our lives beyond the screen. The campaign encompasses two films which both highlight the complexity and depth of ITV characters and the compelling stories they tell. 

Nils Leonard, Co-founder at Uncommon said, “As a genre, drama uniquely compels, through powerful characters we become hooked, craving our immediate next fix. Think about your favourite characters. Or the ones that stick with you. Often these characters play out a recognisable archetype, even if we don’t realise it, they sit behind many of the dramas we watch. Reminding us of the people we love, the people we hate and sometimes even ourselves. These characters live beyond the screen, emphasising the power great TV can have. This work is about provoking people to look again at ITV.”

Each film portrays a different character archetype, ‘The Patriarch’ and ‘The Guvnor’. The characters do a rare thing, breaking the fourth wall, they directly speak to the viewer explaining how they work, what fuels them and ultimately, why we are moved by them and change our channels to see them. The work aims to move and provoke light viewers to reappraise ITV, and see that the network is a destination for great drama. 

Both spots have a unique scale and power in their own right, promoting ITV drama with anguish, tension and deeper meaning. Both films were directed by renowned British film and documentary director James Marsh, best known for his multi-award-winning work The Theory of Everything, Man on Wire and dramatic hit The Night Of.

The first of the character driven spots ‘The Patriarch’ is a haunting elegy. The battle weary father figure directly challenges us, opens up, and plays out an unspoken insight: That the ones we love often live within the characters we love. Starring acclaimed stage and screen actor Roger Allam in his iconic character, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, from ITV crime drama Endeavour. Allam’s emotive performance and monologue plays back a truth of all great drama. We go on journeys with the characters we love, often into mortal danger where others would flee, and even though we can feel the inevitable outcome we follow anyway. ‘Although you know that good guys and the innocent often perish in great drama, you won’t be able to help yourself’. Although we accept their gruelling fate, we can’t help but watch their story unfold.  

‘The Patriarch’ opens on DI Thursday pensively attending a scene of destruction, as he moves through the shadowy woodland he speaks. At first we presume he is speaking to another character, we then realise he is speaking to us. The wall is broken revealing his truth and laying himself bare. We see a service revolver in his hand and gunshots begin to fire. He calmly raises his revolver and shoots into the woods, a body falls. The tension heightens, more shots fire and we feel his jeopardy. He runs through the trees and finds shelter by a derelict building, he knows he’s outnumbered and that his fate is sealed with only one way out. We will never know, but we are left with a very human sentiment: ‘All our stories are too short for bad characters.’

The film is set to infamous composer Max Ritcher’s iconic score, ‘On the nature of Daylight’ which only adds to the scale and power of the piece. Richter is famously guarded about the use of his music commercially but personally approved the use after seeing the work.

The second film ‘The Guvnor’ is performed by BAFTA and Golden Globe award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn in her beloved role of DCI Vera Stanhope from the ITV series Vera. Her feminist, empowered monologue spells out the preconceptions around age and stereotypes on screen and tackles these directly with no-nonsense. In her inimitable style, she challenges the stereotypes we have become familiar with on TV and bucks them. ‘Would you like me anymore if I was nipped and tucked?’ As she briskly makes her way through the crime scene, waiting for the relevant evidence to catch her eye, she explains how regardless of her age, gender, looks or style - she’s the copper who always gets the job done. In sharp contrast to the soft stomached copper in the background she inspires us all to be a bit more Vera.

Rufus Radcliffe ITV’s Chief Marketing Officer added, “We have had a terrific start to the year, including slot winning entertainment and really strong audiences for our dramas, bringing millions of people together. To continue to attract both our loyal audiences who helped us post record share figures in 2018, and also attract and encourage light ITV viewers to come in to the channel more often, we want to make sure our marketing and branding reflects the creativity and energy at the heart of our business, and demonstrates the emotional power of our content. The work launching today are the first in a series, which will later extend to other genres, featuring two of our great ITV drama characters, and the distinguished actors who bring them to life on screen.”

The films will air across TV (including Sky and Channel 4), digital and cinema from 16th January. The campaign will be followed by radio executions performed by top ITV talent, due to launch within the next month. The ‘Great Characters’ campaign will continue throughout 2019. 
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