How brands can capitalise on televised moments

Posted 05.09.19

With TV viewing becoming ever more fragmented we are sharing fewer and fewer moments. No longer are we tied to broadcasting schedules or sitting together to watch appointment-to-view TV. Instead, we are binge-watching drama and docuseries made available to us all whenever we want. The biggest stresses are no longer trying to see the show but furiously avoiding spoilers as we play catch-up.  

On those rare occasions though that the country and even world come together to view a series or a major event, brands have a huge opportunity to capitalise on the conversation and curate a conversation for their audience. 


The Power of Sport

One of the few remaining shared TV moments is around televised global sporting events, like the Olympics and Football World Cup. In fact, the 14 most watched television events of all time all come from either an Olympic Games or World Cup. Only the 2015 and 2019 Cricket World Cups appear in the top 20 the rest are from various recent Olympic and World Cups.  

In terms of the UK sporting events rank highly amongst the most watched broadcasts on UK TV, with the 1966 World Cup Final, 1970 FA Cup Final Replay, and 2012 Olympic Games all amongst the top 10. The In the years England appear in a major football tournament this is usually the most watched event on TV that year, this is true of 2018 (England V Croatia), 2006 (England V Sweden), 2004 (England V Portugal), and 1998 (England V Argentina).

Sport, and in particular football, at least on a national level has the ability to bring the country together like few other things can. It’s a representation of our values on a global scale and pits us against the world’s best (usually with us crashing out on penalties in the Quarter Finals!). 


Capturing the Zeitgeist

Rarely in the last decade has a show become part of the zeitgeist and caught the country’s attention in a way Game of Thrones has. Not since the dawn of streaming have we had a show as powerful as Game of Thrones at capturing the world’s imagination. 

The show’s success snowballed culminating in the much-hyped recent finale Season 8, with 10M more viewers watching the most recent season compared with the previous season. In the US GoT amassed an average gross audience per episode of over 44.2M viewers (up from just 2.2 million who tuned in for the first episode of Thrones when it debuted).  This massive audience growth and insane volume of interest has led brand as diverse as Oreo, Adidas and Urban Decay all trying to capitalise on the conversation. 


Cutting through the Noise

At Wilderness, we were in the fortunate position to have won a competitive pitch at the start of the year to work with Game of Thrones broadcaster HBO here in the UK. Tasked with cutting through the noise and ensuring the brand was seen to lead the conversation whilst also differentiating ourselves from our neighbours across the pond we set to work. 

With just a few weeks lead time before one of the biggest entertainment launches in history we worked collaboratively with the client to specifically focus on engaging the community in a personable way, defining an approachable ToV for the brand with creative that invites (and does not startle), and using insight to be agile and grasp the needs of the audience on specific platforms.   

By owning the ToV of the brand and across all platforms we aimed to build a British identity for HBO.     


Owning the conversation and going Viral

We tracked and analyzed social conversation in real-time and noticed a lot of online chatter ahead of episode 3. The episode had leaked online and so we took the decision to bring forward a tweet that made reference to Arya’s age, a key plot-point in the episode. 

The tweet went viral raking-up over 20K likes in just 24 hours and been featured in mainstream press such as The Sun, The Independent, Buzzfeed, Vanity Fair, Business Insider and more.  


The lesson for brands?

What is the lesson here for brands? Don’t underestimate the importance of timing. Cultural events happen in a heartbeat and TV moments are transient. That said, being active within the conversation and getting out in front of breaking chatter can be hugely valuable and even have the ability to change the perception of your brand. Be bold and encourage fans to have their say, curating a safe space for debate and conversation. 

We are lucky to work with clients that support our reactive, moment-grabbing approach. The conversation on social is constantly evolving and moments however big can be gone within hours. For brands, you have the opportunity to ‘own’ these moments, but be aware they can be gone in the blink of an eye. 

What are you waiting for?


Tom Jarvis, Founder and Managing Director – Wilderness Agency