The Big TV Festival 2018

”We can’t underestimate how groundbreaking the festival is to have the TV industry united in this way. It was a fantastic couple of days with every side of TV represented – production, programming, effectiveness, advertisers, creatives and an audience of captivated next-generation industry leaders.”

Kelly Williams , MD, Commercial, ITV

Last week saw the launch of the inaugural Big TV Festival, signalling the dawn of a new era of collaboration and co-operation among the UK’s three biggest commercial TV broadcasters, who, in the face of increased external competition, temporarily set aside their rivalries to prioritise the health of the UK TV industry at large.

In the context of a relatively tough year for TV broadcasters, and a marketplace providing more viewer choice than ever before, ITV, C4 & Sky (with help from Thinkbox) invited around 150 agency and industry folk to a day and a half in Blackwood Forest, with the primary intention of celebrating all things TV.

We were given insight into the production and creative side of the industry, discussed why it’s such an effective channel for advertisers, and touched on some of the challenges we’re all facing. One eye was firmly fixed on the future, and the level of discourse was well-tailored for those of us approaching TV from an agency background. The overall aim was of course for the multitude of planners and buyers in attendance was to leave with a renewed appreciation for the medium.

We were compèred by two living embodiments of the power of TV, Scarlett Moffat and Jamie Laing, who did a great job hosting the event. A notable highlight was the superb Rory Sutherland (I now follow him on Twitter & listen to his podcasts), who explored TV advertising within the framework of behavioural psychology – don’t worry I won’t try and do him justice here. Elsewhere, Kate Waters (CSO, Now) gave a thought provoking talk on effectiveness and measurement, Ros King (Lloyds Bank) and Abi Pearl (GiffGaff) offered distinct but equally insightful accounts on how TV has driven growth for their businesses, and Adam Zuckerman (Discovery) helpfully summarised the highlights of CES 2018, and what the future might hold for the world of TV (spoiler: TVs apparently won’t exist in ten years; they’ll either be invisible, part of the wallpaper, or you’ll project it from something).

My main takeout from the event was that despite the numerous challenges facing the industry, the future of TV is in safe hands. Events like this show the advertising world that while TV’s Project Juno/Rio/Arena is probably some way off, broadcasters are ready to collectively listen and more importantly collaborate, which can only be a good thing for agencies and clients.

Rumour has it this will be an annual event – keep an eye out for it in 2019!


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