The Plannertarium meets Hollyoaks for Load & Go
Neil Walker, branded content director at ZenithOptimedia’s Newcast division, who attended Channel 4′s 2009 Plannertarium, describes how creating a ‘soap within a soap’ got Hollyoaks fans talking about O2′s Load & Go card.
In a deal physically signed-off at the Plannertarium last year, we used the centre-break of Hollyoaks, every day for a month, to launch the new O2 Money card (called Load & Go) in what C4 now likes to call “the daddy of contextual advertising campaigns”.
Working with 4Creative, we brought together the Hollyoaks-makers Lime Pictures, the director of the Inbetweeners and the lead writer of the Catherine Tate Show to create a soap-within-a-soap called Load & Go, a bite-sized romcom that ran every day. Imagine the Simpsons’ Itchy & Scratchy but running in airtime.
Every mini-episode featured two characters, Matt and Sam, who looked as if they could have walked straight off the set of Hollyoaks itself, and these two loveable goofballs talked about the Hollyoaks plotline viewers had just watched and referenced how they were using their Load & Go cards to purchase items related to the storyline.
At the time we knew this was pretty cool, not only because it was groundbreaking in terms of media, but because we knew Hollyoaks fans would love it.
But to make sure they told their mates about our mini-soap, we identified the 10 most vocal Hollyoaks fans on the web and took them up to the Hollyoaks set to give them a heads up on what we were up to and to meet their heroes.
Naturally, when this excited group hit all the Hollyoaks blogs, forums and Twitter conversations they went nuts – generating thousands of conversations about the mini-episodes and the O2 cash card – which meant Matt and Sam were on every self-respecting Hollyoaks fan’s radar both before and throughout the campaign.
And as a result… we smashed our first month’s sales target by 300%, making Load & Go the fastest-growing card launch in the UK.
To apply for this year’s Plannertarium, please visit www.channel4sales.com.