Boxing Day ad breaks face alien invasion in new Thinkbox campaign that reinforces the impact of TV advertising

Viewers tuning in to primetime slots on Boxing Day will have their ad breaks interrupted by aliens in a series of spots from Thinkbox that look to use the power of TV to demonstrate the power of TV.

Lucozade, DFS, and Sheba have teamed up with the company to create one-off versions of their ads that will be cut off by a message from extraterrestrials invading earth. It’s the first ad from Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV, since it retired its Harvey the dog character in 2015.

The ad, a tongue-in-cheek homage to classic science fiction films, opens with a fleet of alien spaceships bearing down on Earth. The alien leader then infiltrates the nation’s TV broadcast to deliver an unintelligible message, as one alien enthusiast seeks out to find where the ships have landed. But all is not as it seems, and TV has made the aliens look much more threatening than they are, as the hero of the tale runs over the spaceships with his car. The closing message directs viewers to ‘discover the power of TV advertising’.

To build momentum the Boxing Day ad break on Channel 4, ITV and Sky channels will be interrupted after every ad, or in the middle as is the case with the three partner brands, by a 5-second spot of the alien invasion getting closer to Earth, culminating in the full 60-second ad to close the break.

These ad breaks will take place during Captain Phillips on ITV, Big Fat Quiz of the Year on Channel 4, Love Actually on ITV2, Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic, Conviction on Sky Living and Transformers on Sky One.

It’s far removed from the much-loved Harvey the dog trilogy, but follows the same path of taking a creative approach to TV advertising to prove is worth to advertisers. While TV has seen six years of record growth in the UK, its share of the ad market is tipped to decrease in 2017, the year in which both WPP’s GroupM and IPG’s Magna pinpoint as when digital ad spend will surpass linear TV.

Andrew MacGillivray, marketing director at Thinkbox, said: “Following the retirement of the star of Thinkbox’s previous TV ads – Harvey the dog is currently writing a memoir – we wanted to do something completely different in style and tone: something that entertains viewers, stands out in the ad break, and clearly shows the power of TV advertising.

“We believe this new TV ad brings to life the scale, cultural reach, impact and synchronicity of TV advertising. It shows that if you want to speak to the whole nation at the same time and have a genuine impact, then you use TV. Aliens are optional.”

Nick Ashworth, head of marketing communications at DFS, added: “The idea of advertisers working together on TV ad breaks to create innovation, intrigue and engagement really appeals to the team at DFS."

The ad was created by Red Brick Road and directed by The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide. Media planning was by MediaCom.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.