Changing perceptions at Channel 5

What prompted Channel 5 to do a re-brand?

It started when Viacom bought Channel 5, they wanted to really make their mark. We wanted to bring the brand to the 21st century and create something we could really be proud of, that’s why it took 13 months to complete before we launched. Viacom really understands the importance of a strong brand and put a lot of strategic thought, consumer research and creative development into it.Who played key parts in the rebrand from insight & strategy to creative, tone of voice and design?

Jo Bacon (Vice-President of Marketing, Creative, Publicity & Media for Viacom) was a key instigator as she wanted to re-evaluate the brand but it also included Jody Malam (Creative Director at MTV) and Dene Smith (Art Director at Channel 5) alongside Gretel and Troika agencies.

Channel 5 Rebrand

What were the key objectives with the new rebrand?

The main thing we wanted to achieve was for people to change their perception of us. We wanted to create a quality and consistent image while unifying each of our touch points and sub brands (5, 5USA, 5STAR, My5 and Spike). We wanted to attract more of an audience between the ages of 16 and 34 while also appealing to an ABC1 demographic. However, we were also careful not to alienate our existing core audience.

Channel 5 Rebrand

What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did you overcome this?

The biggest challenge was also the key objective, changing people’s minds about us. We wanted people to judge us for themselves rather than listening to a misconception. We ran some market research where we had viewers watch a new channel 5 program. The responses were often “that is better than I thought it would be” meaning their initial impressions were perhaps pretty low before watching. The rebrand was just the first step on that journey and it’s now that we’re really starting to see shifts in both viewer and the media’s perception.

How did you approach your launch campaign?

Historically we have done big ‘switch-on’ moments.  This time though we didn’t want to make a big deal of it because as I’ve said before, this is a journey for us.  People will join it and make their own decisions at different times, they shouldn’t be pressurised into making a judgement at that point where we switched over. Obviously, we notified various agencies when we went out for quotes and some press like creative review, but otherwise we just didn’t want to make it a big thing.

What are the biggest successes you have seen off the back of it?

We are starting to see some great things coming through now off the back of it.

5STAR has been a huge success in attracting the 16 – 34 demographics we were targeting and has doubled its audience in the last year. Our sport offering has massively increased and we now show Boxing, Cricket and Motorsport like Formula E and our factual slate goes from strength to strength.  Recently there was a great article in The Telegraph about our programme “The Accused” with one of my favourite quotes yet,

“Never mind Naked Jungle and Big Brother – The Accused proves it's time to stop looking down on Channel 5”7.     What is your favourite competing brand?

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but It has to be Channel 4. I am not a huge fan of the idents that everyone went crazy for but I do love the brand ethos ‘Born Risky’ and this is really geeky but the OSP is great and the font is super-cool.  Typographically probably my favourite font out there!

Have you seen a difference in the internal perception of the brand as well as external?

The biggest change has come from combining offices when we moved to Camden as well as the rebrand. It has been great having all the teams under one roof. Plus we’re now with MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon which has helped freshen ideas up. It’s a cool and fun place to work and you can definitely feel more of a buzz around the place.

What has this done for your talent attraction?

We have found an increase in younger talent being interested in working for us since the rebrand, it’s a great sign that we are changing perceptions and attracting younger audiences, not just as viewers but as potential employees too.


Rob Fox, Deputy Creative Director, Channel 5

Rob has been at Channel 5 for over 10 years and taken on a variety of roles within their creative department.  

With the broadcaster's acquisition by Viacom in 2014, he was charged with integrating the department into its new owner and has overseen a drive to help bring Channel 5 and its digital family (Spike, 5STAR, 5USA and My5) both younger and more ABC1.  This included a major rebrand at the beginning of 2016 and an increase in the channel's presence both off-air and in social.

Prior to that he worked for Sky and when not spotted laptop in hand, he's usually found on a sports field/track of some form…

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