It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when rolling news wasn’t a thing.
Whilst at AMV/BBDO, we got a brief for BBC News 24 to explain that not only was rolling news a thing, it was a good thing.
It occurred to us that 90% of news was unplanned, random acts, terrorism, floods, accidents, things you just couldn’t predict.
That seemed like a good angle – news doesn’t stop happening, so BBC News 24 never stops running.
The thought was so obvious it ran the risk of insulting the intelligence of our audience, so we made the ads a bit sarcastic, tongue in cheek, as if “You already know this, but…”.
Like it was reminding rather than informing.
We wrote out a batch of headlines:
Dave Wakefield came up with a neat idea for the layouts, as it was for a rolling news station, let’s have rolling headlines, we’d show bits of one that had just gone and a bit of one on it’s way.
Genius, simple idea, that hadn’t been done. (I think?)
Client: “I like the idea, but what if those things happen when the ads are running? Terrorism? Hijackings? Natural disasters?”
What, you mean what if some NEWS happens?
“Could we make them more general, not such specific events?”
Jesus! Lighten up sister, it’s a joke, a bit of fun!
She was having none of it, out went half the work, (including our favourite script – the plane hijacking one: After the news announcer says ‘that’s the end of the news’, a plane hijacker puts down his gun, takes a seat and starts reading a newspaper.)
But we still shot these five, with Ringan Ledwidge helping us make fun of the idea that the news stopped when the announcer said ‘That’s the end of the news”.
The posters ended up like this, they felt a bit neutered, soft.
The campaign ran from the second week in September 2001.
Yes, that’s right, THAT September.
It was all taken off air and billboards straight away.
Fortunately we didn’t have the embarrassment of having to explain our ‘fun’ hijacking ad.
After that, nobody needed ads to understand the benefits of rolling news.