ITV’s London Television Studios welcomed advertisers and media agency folk for the hottest television event in the calendar – The ITV Upfronts.
Ant and Dec hosted the evening against a dynamic colour-picked ITV logo, welcoming special guests throughout the evening including Paddy McGuinness, Peter Crouch, Mr Selfridges’ Jeremy Piven and a very naughty Keith Lemon.
A key theme of this year’s Upfronts was ‘Celebrating Advertising’ and this was demonstrated spectacularly in the opening act by Britain’s Got Talent winners Spelbound, who performed an acrobatics routine to some of advertising’s most iconic music tracks.
The message that ITV is the most watched, most loved and most talked about commercial channel in the UK and what this means for brands underpinned the entire show.
Fru Hazlitt, ITV Commercial’s Managing Director carried this theme throughout her segment, explaining that ITV is the proud home of some of the highest-rating programmes on television, including the nation’s two most-loved soaps, Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
In fact, she added, in the last year, 604 programmes on Commercial TV had attracted over seven million viewers. 600 of these were on ITV and the other four? “Well, who cares?”
We are also the most talked about commercial channel, Fru continued, with the headline-grabbing statement: "Without us, social media would be nothing. In fact, looking at social media, without The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) social media would really be nothing."
ITV’s Director of Television Peter Fincham disclosed what the forthcoming schedule will include and also spoke of ITV’s ‘most watched’ content, with examples of brand new programmes receiving fantastic viewing figures such as Big Star’s Little Star, Broadchurch, Splash and Through the Keyhole.
He also gave the audience an insight into some of the hot new programmes coming up in 2014, such as a new comedy called Edge of Heaven starring Blake Harrison from the Inbetweeners and a new drama Lucan based on the life of flamboyant aristocrat, Lord Lucan. “We’re raising the quality and standards of programming,” said Peter, “And audiences are coming with us.”
The final section of the show centered on ITV Partnerships and included recent examples of the fabulous partnership between Coronation Street and Compare the Market. Ant & Dec interviewed Aleksandr live from Meerkovo where Aleksandr complimented ITV for making him "Most famous Russian Meerkat in the world!"
Other highlights of the evening included an Ant and Dec mural by Graffiti Life which greeted guests on their arrival, a game of ‘Win the Ads’ in which a lucky member of the audience walked away with ITV-themed (and very tongue in cheek) goodies such as a Simon Cowell chest wig, and an appearance by Little Ant and Dec, who transformed into Little Dags and Kelly (for the pay rise) before being told to get back to work by Little Fru.
Watch the 'All Rise Mash Up' above and see the behind-the-scenes footage!
The event came to a close with spine-tingling performances by The X Factor finalist Jahmene and winner Alexandra Burke, after which the crowds were led to the ‘ITV house party’, to mingle with some surprise guests.
Every area of the Upfronts after party was cleverly designed as a room in a house, complete with a den filled with World Cup memorabilia and table football and a garden with shrubbery and an ice-cream van selling ITV-inspired cocktails – all with Keith Lemon's seal of approval. The celebrating advertising theme was also carried through with our client’s brands sitting alongside our own.
The real treat of the after-party event was three live performances by The Big Reunion acts Atomic Kitten, Blue and 5IVE, which had everyone dancing and signing along (see our All Rise ‘Mash Up, above!).
The feedback from this year’s event has been tremendous, with The Drum Media’s Stephen Lepitak saying: “The event was a speculator three hour show, but it also managed to prove to the broadcaster's advertisers that ITV is in a very healthy state, with a slate of programming that is genuinely in demand, and that's with nary a mention of a certain Downton Abbey.”
See more of the press coverage below.
Thanks to all the guests who attended this year's event, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
PS - Thanks for posting pictures of the Keith and Holly gnomes in their new homes. Find out the winner and all our favourites here!