ITV and APG have come together to bring you a new way of planning in the current world. ‘How do you brief in doom & gloom’ launched to a sold-out audience of planners and strategists, deep diving into ITV and Crowdfund DNA’s new research to help inform your plans.

ITV’s Lucy Crotty and Kate Waters kicked off events with a whistle-stop tour of our What Unites A Kingdom research. The findings explored the evolving codes and customs of Britishness today. ITV’s Lucy Crotty focused on two of the most relevant codes for brands during this turbulent time: Everyday Magic and Dreaming Big

Kate Waters was joined by an amazing panel consisting of Chaka Sobhani (Leo Burnett), Lily Wilson (ITV Ents commissioner), Tom Sussman (Leo Burnett) and Jon Evans (System 1) to discuss the implications of the research.

5 Key Takeaways from briefing in doom & gloom

1. Be sensitive to, but don’t reflect the doom and gloom 

We all remember the solemn tones of early pandemic advertising that kept reiterating ‘now more than ever’. However, this messaging really did not resonate with the public, with Christmas adverts that even hinted at covid scoring significantly lower on System 1 in 2020, according to Jon Evans. This was a similar story in TV, ITV’s Lily Wilson shared how virtual studio audiences acted as a reminder of our isolation, instead ITV audiences found comfort in nature and travel content that didn’t reflect the realities of lockdown. 

When it comes to brands, Chaka Sobani of Leo Burnett, reiterated that ‘in the worst times we need joy… But it’s also about knowing your brand's parameters’.  Looking forward, Tom Sussman, Leo Burnett, suggested that ‘the sweet spot will be ads that are as specific as possible, speaking to what we need right now’ instead of focusing on general positive platitudes.

2. Bursting the London bubble has never been more important 

In adland we can sometimes be a little guilty of thinking the world revolves around the M25. Although we are similar to our audiences in many ways, there are some pretty big differences. In fact, mainstream audiences were 3X as likely as those in adland to say that kindness was important in the What Unites A Kingdom survey.

Jon Evans and Chaka Sobhani stressed the importance of listening to audiences in a cost of living crisis. Emphasising that the industry needs to fully understand the difficulties mainstream Brits are facing, in order to make authentic, non-patronising advertising.

3. Underestimate audiences at your peril

‘The audience are savvy and know when they are being bullsh*tted’ - Lily Wilson spoke about how telling real stories in their full truth on shows like BGT have helped. However, in order to do this in agencies, Chaka Sobhani indicated there is a need to make sure there are strategists and planners with a variety of different stories and perspectives in order to ensure authenticity, especially for minority audiences.

4. Keep purpose-led comms distinctive by grounding them in a brand truth

'Sometimes a brand's purpose can just be to make the customer smile’ Lucy Crotty stated ‘If you're an ice cream brand, you don’t need to talk about injustice, unless it aligns with your brand positioning’. Tom Sussman suggested strategists think of how the brand can be truly helpful, in a way that aligns with its original values, rather than retrofitting their brand to fit the latest topical issue.

5. Mainstream messaging should be about showing the true diversity of the UK

The panel spoke on audiences' openness and appetite for change and diverse representation, with ITV’s soaps being a testament to that. ‘The soaps are one of the biggest educators in the country, one of the most impactful things for trans rights that moved the country forward was Hayley’s story on Corrie’ Chaka Sobhani of Leo Burnett. Jon Evans and Kate Waters spoke about the Feeling Seen research ITV and System 1 conducted, showcasing how diverse casting in advertising was a win-win in terms of creative effectiveness. 

What Unites a Kingdom is rich conversational fuel that gets planners, strategists and importantly clients talking about the big and important topics facing the industry. If you would like to know how our research can power your business, get in touch at

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