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GB News adopts political campaigning tactics to boost ratings

By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

January 6, 2022 | 5 min read

GB News has borrowed from the political advertising playbook for its latest marketing drive which aims to win over 'swing' viewers disillusioned by the BBC and other so-called 'PC' news outlets.

Working in collaboration with recently appointed agency London Advertising, GB News has identified ‘swing voters’ to target, engaged in ongoing polling, and picked an opposition to “attack”.

GB News ad campaign

GB News goes big on out of home advertising

"Like the advertising industry itself, we set out to disrupt, innovate and offer a fresh perspective," said GB News chief executive officer Angelos Frangopoulos. "We’re ruffling feathers but since it’s decades since Britain’s last news broadcasting start-up, we feel it’s time for a shake-up."

GB News has struggled with its image and ratings since going live in June, often averaging 24,000 viewers in primetime and finding itself the subject of advertiser boycotts. Since the acrimonious exit of high-profile presenter and one-time face of the channel Andrew Neil, and the appointment of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, its ratings have however improved with Farage’s spot now averaging 80,000 viewers.

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"GB News is still only six months old but already we’re building an audience of deeply engaged, passionate viewers who love us because we never patronize them," adds Frangopoulos.

London Advertising chief exec Michael Moszynski told The Drum that GB News hasn't been given the chance to succeed and its loudest critics aren’t even tuning in. It's his aim to reshape the narrative around GB News and end advertiser boycotts.

Three target segments totaling 15 million people were identified as ‘swing voters’ or demographics likely to change to a right-leaning news provider. A heat map was then drawn up showing areas with the highest prevalence of these groups with the media planning based on the map.

Working with pollsters Yonder, GB News has been conducting ongoing polling to establish which ads would result in the target groups switching to GB News. Early results showed a 5% (750,000) uplift in the target groups watching GB News three weeks post-campaign rising from 20% in November to 25% and a 4% uplift in positive brand sentiment. A further 12% increase in brand awareness was also recorded.

“Having worked in advertising for 35 years, I have never seen a campaign work so effectively in such a short period of time," Moszynski said. "This is due to the precision of the messaging and targeting that was informed by Yonder’s research which also enabled us to track its impact.”

For its final core tactic, ‘attack the market leader’, GB News has waged war on the BBC with ads stating ‘We ask the questions you’d ask. BBC News doesn’t’ and ‘Biased Broadcasting Corporation’. Ad vans have also been placed outside BBC offices in London, Leeds, and Sheffield.

Out of home is GB News' main media channel with most ads concentrated on high streets and supermarkets. Except for sites near to BBC offices, London has been excluded from GB News' media planning.

Other approaches include promoting big-ticket shows like the recent launch of Breakfast with Eammon and Isobel along with positive reasons to watch GB News with ads that say, ‘free speech free of charge’ and ‘GB News not PC News’.

To inform its creative strategy, it also called on Yonder to survey 2000 adults to examine the public’s views about TV news. The research revealed 64% of the UK population think TV news is biased, 66% said there was too much political correctness and 67% think it's too London-centric.

GB News ad campaign

“To borrow from the famous beer campaign, GB News aims to reach the people that other news channels don’t reach," said Frangopoulos. "We’re proud to be a voice for all the people of Britain, especially those outside London who feel their views haven’t been heard in mainstream media for a long time."

GB News' marketing push comes as News UK preps a competitor, TalkTV, which is primed for a 2022 launch.

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