Category: Campaigns

Olly Harnett – BBC Creative Director – Our key notes

His Dark Materials

Last month BBC CREATIVE Director Olly Harnett, Creative Director (BBC ONE, Radio 2) came in to our Members’ Meeting to talk about some of his recent campaign work.

BBC Creative is the in-house creative team at the BBC, run on an agency model. It was brought in house in 2016 and is made up of around 150 people split between London and Salford.

Here are some of our notes:

HIS DARK MATERIALS marketing campaign case study

Positioning line: tricky title if the consumer hasn’t read the books (or Milton!). Therefore it was important to find the cornerstone of the campaign: ‘one girl will change worlds”. Promises adventure, destiny and excitement.

Marketing challenge: 16 -24 year olds are not watching terrestrial TV. TV trails don’t work anymore. How do we reach them? More OOH activity to reach that audience. Special build OOH for social media pick up. Although shouldn’t seem just like a kids drama.

Campaign activity:

TV TRAIL – very filmic and exciting


His Dark Materials

– Story board artist helped create the layout for creative that was used across OOH. No stills ready so went for an illustrative approach for sign off of concept

-Westfield White City – Billboard featuring an armoured bear bursting out of a billboard, breathing out icy breath. Major social media and marketing industry pick-up

-Ad lifts – important not to be too London-centric. Birmingham and Manchester shopping centre vinyl wraps in lifts with selfie spots, audio featuring actors and added peppermint scent

-Cinema spot. Guaranteed audiences of millennials. Shown 1 week ahead of tx date

Results on launch:

10 million viewers of episode 1 across tv and iplayer

Most successful UK drama launch in 5 years


-Snapchat lens where user can turn themselves into the armoured bear

-Continuity idents – adding motifs from the show into regular BBC idents

-Daemon bot – for superfans. What is your daemon? 40 options. Inspired by illustrations in the novels. INCLUDE LINK.

In summary:

Traditional marketing still has its place but we have to find new, exciting and creative ways to reach audiences, particularly our youth audience, who are key to the future of the BBC

Audience questions:

What are your timelines? Very tight, due to special effects and schedule changes. Ideally 4 months notice to get a team in place. Clips arrived very late so clip-based assets were very close-to-the-wire

What’s the mix of skills within the team? All in-house, but we bring in freelancers into the team when we need them.

What didn’t come off? Had to drop our idea to fly a real-life zeppelin over key UK locations because the only available zeppelin was already booked for an Oktoberfest event.

Other work referenced:

Peaky Blinders fan-art campaign

Dracula shadow billboard

  • Inspired by a Japanese artist who makes shadow art
  • By day – stakes hammered into billboard
  • By night – transforms and the shadow left by the stakes forms the shape of Dracula’s face
  • Front page of Reddit twice, picked up by global media

This is a love story: Key takeaways from the Fleabag campaign

In January, Helen Flood of Hodder won the October-December 2019 Best Non-Fiction Marketing Campaign award for her wonderful work on the campaign for Fleabag: The Scriptures. Here, she shares her three key lessons from that campaign:

Keep the faith.

For a really long time in this campaign I worked without any visuals or any knowledge of what the extra material would be. There were no proofs, no audio clips, no meetings with author or agent. All I knew was that a lot of people loved Fleabag and if we presented a campaign pitched to what they loved about the show, that they’d get it.

You can do a lot without an author.

Our three ‘Fleabag parties’ (authorless events) sold out, because people really wanted to come and talk about Fleabag. They loved getting goody bags and taking part in the confessions. And brands loved the show as much as we did – Marks and Spencer gave us 450 free gins and in tins, Becca and Elizabeth Arden sent lipsticks and Philip Kingsley provided the hair masks (because hair is everything). Fans loved visiting the café because they adore the series and wanted to take photos – it didn’t matter that Phoebe wouldn’t be there. We found lots of fans to tweet and share our messaging, and after some convincing even the BBC got on board and tweeted about the book.

Give something back.

Soho Theatre is so important to the Fleabag story, and they do great work with young writers, helping them to bring their work to the stage. I really wanted to work with them as their fans and followers are people who love the craft of theatre and are more likely than anyone else to buy scripts to study the way the show is put together. By sponsoring a bursary for a writer who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford to attend a theatre writing course it felt like Fleabag could come full circle and was a great finishing touch to the campaign.

Fans placed at centre of Hodder’s UK cover reveal for new Stephen King

The UK cover reveal for Stephen King’s new novel Doctor Sleep (Hodder, published 24 September) has been devised with digital marketing agency Think Jam to place Stephen King’s loyal fanbase at the heart of social media activity. An animated version of the cover, featuring interactive hotspots which link to exclusive content, social channels and pre-order is hosted on and on the DOCTOR SLEEP website:

The animated, interactive cover uses ‘ThingLink’ technology and can also be embedded across sites, blogs and social channels. It means that anyone with a website, blog, Twitter profile or Facebook page can embed the interactive image wherever they want. Managed centrally by Think Jam, the platform will automatically update across all sites as new content from Hodder becomes available.

Upon launch, fans will be able to experience the cover animation, watch a video of the author reading an extract from DOCTOR SLEEP and enter a competition to be the first UK fan to read the novel. The platform launched March 20th with media partner The Telegraph, and launches a six month social media and online campaign in the lead up to publication, focusing on key spikes of activity including a summer reading drive around THE SHINING and partnerships with third parties.

Random House joins together imprints for group Christmas campaign

For the first time Random House UK is running a digital consumer campaign with ‘handpicked favourites’ for their readers this Christmas, in a group project which has been co-ordinated with half a dozen people from their Marketing and Digital teams across multiple imprints.

The group has created a dedicated microsite ( which enables people to browse and shop by recommendation either for a specific recipient (gifts for her, for him, for kids, for teens and stocking fillers) or by popular gift categories (books of the year, humour, cookery, autobiographies).  The campaign is a running for four weeks and is supported by online display advertising, paid search and social media targeting.

White Label Productions was tasked with designing their online creative.

Random House said: “We know from our consumer gift research and insight that people really want recommendations when they are shopping. showcases over 100 specially selected titles, recommended by experts and booklovers at Random House, that readers of all ages and with varied interests can enjoy.”  



Foyles launch ‘Patented, FoolProof Gift Acquisition System’ campaign

Foyles has announced the designs for its Christmas 2012 marketing campaign, with the ‘Foyles Bookshop Patented, FoolProof Gift Acquisition System’, a tongue-in-cheek flowchart designed in-house by Jeff Clark, Miriam Robinson, Foyles Head of Marketing, and Heather Baker, Foyles Senior Buyer.

The campaign guides the reader through a series of mildly irreverent yes/no decisions, with the Foyles’ marketing team describing the 16-sheet Central London Underground advertisements, 1000m x 1400m in-store posters and online banners designed “to remind Christmas shoppers that books are wonderful presents, and that Foyles bookshops is the best place to go for advice on buying them.”

Over the next few weeks, segmented versions of a larger flowchart will appear in windows and tables across Foyles five London bookshops and Bristol branch, as well as on and other online platforms. The complete flowchart will then be trailed via social media before appearing on London Underground posters from 10 – 24 December.

Miriam Robinson, Head of Marketing for Foyles said: “We wanted to deliver the message that the beauty of bookshops is that no matter who you’re shopping for, we can find something to match their interests.  We also wanted to have a little fun – Christmas shopping can be perceived as stressful but in a good bookshop it should be the opposite – it should be entertainment”.

The flowchart format builds on the design of Foyles’ autumn 2012 events leaflet, also created in house by Simon Heafield and Miriam Robinson.