In an explosive return to the UK from their world tour, the new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, and his companion Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman, took London and the internet by surprise ahead of the launch of the new series on Saturday on BBC One.
We were tasked with launching the new series of Doctor Who in a novel and engaging way. Along with a launch on TV with teasers, countdowns and an epic trailer for the series, we also wanted to engage people in non-traditional channels and give the launch of this massive global brand a suitably blockbuster feel and impact.
Our solution was to combine a YouTube masthead banner with an unexpected live event, in order to attract as broad a reach as possible, targeting both fans and non-fans alike. Instead of simply playing the trailer in the expandable YouTube banner space, we created a rich and engaging online game in which the player gets to control the TARDIS and try to land it on earth. If you successfully complete the mission the TARDIS lands in Parliament Square, London and exclusive content from the show is unlocked. The game is exceptionally rich for an expandable banner, with an immersive video-rich experience. Players are able to click to play again straight away if they fail to land first time around and can help spread the word with in-built sharing functionality. The game went live at 00.00 on Friday and featured a countdown to the first episode going on air.
We also constructed a replica of the crash-landed TARDIS in Parliament Square. The reveal of the specially built TARDIS model, which took place on Friday 22 August (the day before the new series transmitted on BBC One), provided a seamless connection between the online creative and the real world. And to top it all off, Peter Capaldi made a surprise appearance at Parliament Square to inspect the crashed time machine, his first public outing as The Doctor, along with Jenna Coleman as his companion Clara Oswald.
At the same time, in Stansted Airport we had the arrivals board reprogrammed so that the information linked directly to the crashed TARDIS. The incoming flight listed at 1950 on the day of transmission was labelled as DOCTOR WHO, with the flight number BBC001.
The first episode reached a peak audience of 7.3 million viewers and was the highest series opener in four years.
“Red Bee, working in close collaboration with our internal teams, have delivered two ideas that beautifully and dramatically bring to life to the enormity of this moment. The creativity and innovation of both creative solutions is outstanding and has helped ensure that everyone around the UK and the world is more excited about the arrival of a new doctor than ever before.”
Hugh Davies, Head of Marketing, BBC Drama