‘Hold onto your nerve’ ITV marketing boss urges, after brand revamps for the digital age

The head of ITV’s marketing and media, Reemah Sakaan, has urged broadcasters to hold their nerve and back their vision as they bring their brands into the age of multi-platform delivery channels.


Sakaan: “We believe this is the golden age of TV”

The marketer, who oversaw the total reinvention of ITV from a much-maligned broadcaster into one of the UK’s most popular channels – both on air and through social media – said that the major challenge of reinventing a brand that had “become a bit toxic” turned into an opportunity to reinvent the broadcaster’s entire relationship with its audience.

As emerging digital players appeared on the horizon threatening to strip away ITV’s audience she said it was an opportunity to “never let a crisis go to waste”.

She said the process had helped ITV to get its X factor back. “We believe this is the golden age of TV,” Sakaan told the Mumbrella Entertainment Marketing Summit in Sydney. “And viewers recognise it is is a great time.

The 2013 rebranding of the network took the network from having a static brand coloured yellow and block in the manner of a warning sign, to a living logo that changed its colours to reflect the mood of the shows it was promoting.

More than 300 channel IDs were created featuring real people and designed to reflect specific timeslots, times of the year and popular events.

“We had a branded campaign for the ITV hub across any media that moves,” she

“Our job is to back TV and a lot of it is to make sure we are not defined by the delivery mechanism, but the brands.”

To pull off the rebranding she said the network had to adopt a tough deadline and decided not to use external agencies. “We set a tough deadline – just 11 months from start to finish,” she said.

“We did this entire project in-house and kept it tight with a hand-picked team. There was no way we could do it to budget and on time with external agencies. It was back to marketing 101.”

She said success was anchored in backing the process, where ITV had to overcome what she said had not been a “glorious history of design”.


Sakaan: “Make sure your branding principles are bold and make sure you wrap your brand on everything that leaves the building”

“Do something big, put your tin hats on and hold your nerve,” she said. “Make sure your branding  principles are bold and make sure you wrap your brand on everything that leaves the building.”

Sakaan said that the launch of the brand also needed to be big, and rather than soft launch, ITV rolled out the brand across every one of its touch points on a single day.

She also made sure directors of the network were prepared for any possible backlash by inviting selected industry journalists in ahead of time and gauging how the market might react.

To fund the project ITV added 10% to its marketing budget, but withdrew from mainstream advertising for six months ahead of the launch, diverting the budget to the redesign.

Social media has also become a core part of the network’s messaging, moving from a robotic stream that announced show as they were going to air to a more interactive model, saying that announcing shows at air time was “too late”.

Social media now starts posting two hours before a show goes to air – the sweet spot for gaining attention from potential viewers – while a team of nine kept conversations with views running on Twitter  and Facebook.

The result has been ITV becoming the most followed commercial broadcaster on social media.


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