TURNING STORIES INTO ADS. Panorama.

THE PROBLEM: Panorama wanted to grow its audience.
The Guardian, Times and Telegraph were the best places to find likely viewers, so we had to do ads.
But Panorama was one of the BBC’s most serious, straight talking, truth-seeking programmes, and advertising is rarely in the same sentence as those words.
When someone looks at an ad the words most likely to be in their subconscious are ‘selling’, ‘lying’, ‘bullshitting’, ‘schmoozing’, ‘tricking’ and ‘spinning’. (Hope I haven’t missed one?.)
We couldn’t do anything about advertising getting itself a bad name over the last century, but we didn’t have to look like we’re in that gang.
Ads tend to look like ads.
A small logo bottom right, for example, tells you that you’re not looking at editorial, which is handy for most people because it allows them to ignore ads very quickly and go straight to the editorial.
Panorama had gravitas, so we needed a format we put our ideas into that didn’t scream “AD COMING! LOCK UP YOUR CHILDREN!”
The ideas themselves were straightforward: People rarely watch a season of documentaries because of the brand, they dip in and out according to that weeks story, so we needed to turn their stories into hooks, or ads as they are sometimes known.

To me, problems are good.
They give you direction.
Without problems you are just doing “visual and verbal gymnastics”, as Bill Bernbach put it.
If you find the right problems you’ve got a chance of finding the right solution.

With Panorama, there were two problems:
a) Their weekly stories didn’t link together and they weren’t even unique.
E.g. ‘The O.J Simpson Trial’, who wasn’t covering that? I think even the Beano ran a pull out on that at the time.
We would need exceptionally strong branding to solve both issues.
b) It shouldn’t feel like an ‘ad’.

The two problems got to thinking about magazines, they dealt with serious issues all the time, sometimes using humour, but the issues didn’t seem to lose gravitas.
I remembered a book from my first agency Brooks Legon Bloomfield.
In fact it was their library, it was the only book on advertising they had in the building.
81xe5dZHF3L-1

Consequently, I read it a lot, really a lot.
I became very, very familiar with its contents. I didn’t love all of George Lois’ stuff, but I did love his Esquire covers.
esquire_warholesquire_Cohn

GQ 2-GQ-ES01.27tumblr_lyl8deDiLx1qaw2tq

68-04_Esquire_Alib-e1373549236851esquire.november_1968
They managed to put over complex issues with simplicity and wit.
We took this as our inspiration.

Logo size is debated every day in agencies.
Agencies want them smaller to make the brand classy, clients want them big so that the public at least see their name, even if they don’t engage with their message.
But here’s the odd thing, size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it.
(I’m aware that sounds a bit Carry On-ish)
Making the Panorama logo look like a masthead on a magazine meant it didn’t feel like a logo.
It was as big as humanly possible, but it didn’t have that ‘desperate big logo’ feel.
BBC Panorama %22Bart Simpson%22-06
Panorama whole 006
Panorama whole 003
Panorama whole 004
Panorama whole 005
BBC Panorama %22Female Spy%22-01

I couldn’t find many discarded roughs for this campaign, a shame because knowing Tim Delaney, we probably wrote ten for every one that ended up being a made.
(Although there could be good reason why they were rejected and I haven’t got them.)
The only ones I could lay my hands on were for the episode covering the O.J. Simpson trial.
On the face of it, this is a very clever neat idea:
Panorama %22State%22 Rough-01

As is this:
Panorama dollar
But, I think our ‘clever’ ideas are getting in the way of the story.
The story doesn’t need our spin, it’s the O.J. trial, at least show him…
Panorama whole 002
In retrospect, two massive letters ‘O’ and ‘J’ would’ve been even more direct.
They used to say there’s only one O.J. Simpson?, Who? Who used to say that? I’ve never heard anyone say that? Why lie?

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