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UKTV channel W overhauls its branding as it goes free-to-air

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By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

March 21, 2022 | 5 min read

UKTV-owned W has refreshed its brand by repositioning itself under the ‘Life Unfiltered’ strapline as the channel goes free-to-air.

On March 28, W will be available on all British TVs and for free on UKTV’s streaming service UKTV Play. To introduce the channel to all UK audiences, W has completely overhauled its brand at every touchpoint, from its content strategy to its color palette and even the way it captures marketing assets.

UKTV channel W rebrands and goes free-to-air

UKTV channel W has rebranded

“We are now able to be a broadcaster in the truest sense of the word and be available to everyone,” W’s head of marketing Nick Gilmer proclaims. “It’s a really exciting time for the brand – we are going to open ourselves up to a huge number of new audiences and we wanted to take this time to refresh the brand that hasn’t been looked at for some time.”

W is a 25-44 female-skewed channel home to original shows such as Inside the Ambulance and 999 Rescue Squad, and more recently has had breakout hits including Emma Willis: Delivering Babies and Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over. The channel has been slowly growing in notoriety in recent years by refocusing its content strategy on real female stories told by high-profile talent living through the subjects they explore.

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W channel director Adam Collings says the channel has been on this trajectory for some time, and the rebrand offered an opportunity to “sharpen the brand.” “W’s new branding perfectly communicates our rich mix of shows, offering moments of unfiltered joy, tears and laughter,” he says.

‘Life Unfiltered’ is more than a strapline, says Gilmer. “It’s a principle that we are living and breathing through everything that we do.” W was informed by audience insight that viewers were crying out for human stories and real people. “People are tiring of that perfect view of the world you get on Instagram and some of those highly-polished shows with ripped men that you get on some of our competitors.”

“That’s our point of difference – everything we do now is going to be unfiltered and that’s how we got to our proposition line,” he adds.

In the past, W’s marketing team used staged and edited images in its out-of-home (OOH) campaigns and social assets, but now W will use only candid snaps. “They will be those really lovely stolen moments that you can’t plan for,” Nick says. “We are going to be showing the real side of entertainment, without the polish and the unachievable.”

UKTV W rebrand

In-house agency UKTV Creative designed, developed and delivered all 200 assets for the channel rebrand. The Life Unfiltered mantra has also inspired eight channel idents and all on-air packaging.

UKTV Creative also resigned W’s new color palette. Nick says: “There is a warmth that we want to represent at every touchpoint and the color palette is a key part of that.”

W will push the rebrand messaging out with a blend of commercial TV ads, OOH and social. Influencer marketing will be a key part of the social marketing mix, but the channel will only use influencers that meet its ‘unfiltered’ requirements, with the likes of @ashleylouisejames, @stylemesunday and @mamastillgotit among W’s roster.

Gilmer is kicking off the rebrand with a big noisy campaign. He explains that the first stage of the process is driving awareness that W is moving in front of the paywall. “We need to explain quickly to people who we are and where they can find us,” Gilmer says.

The ‘Life Unfiltered’ campaign is likely to run across the rest of the year, with Gilmer’s next phase geared toward marketing the shows and making sure its new positioning permeates.

W follows former pay channel Sky Arts, which moved to free-to-air in September 2020.

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