Where Brands Live- The Upfronts 2014

A thrilling year ahead for ITV was unveiled at a spectacular ITV Upfronts show at London Television Centre last night.

An audience of advertising movers and shakers was treated to a star-studded show, given glimpses of new programming, and granted insights into ITV’s vision for the next year.

Fru Hazlitt, ITV’s Managing Director, Commercial and Online, gave a passionate speech on the power of television and the direction of ITV.

“Television remains an incredibly powerful advertising platform,” she said. “Its unique ability to entertain audiences has not diminished. Of course, people now watch it across a wide range of platforms. The screen may be smaller, it may be curved, it may be 3D, it may even be a watch, but it’s still a television.”

Hazlitt revealed that ITV Player would be completely revamped, and gave the audience a sneak peek at ITV’s research project, Primal Screen.

“This highlights the very special relationship our viewers have with our content,” said Hazlitt. “The research suggests that television meets, head on, a primal human need for group bonding – further proof that prime television content is still a massive differentiator in this market. It’s a place where your brands can both live, and come alive."

“The research really does raise some key questions – for example, can 10 million online viewers from a disparate audience, gathered over  number of countries, over a number of months, ever do the same for your brand as 10 million simultaneous TV viewers? We think not; and the research agrees. More than that, it really offers a word of warning to those who believe that any video view is the same as a quality video view – it’s just not. All audience views, and all media, were not born equal.”

ITV’s Director of Television, Peter Fincham, spoke to the audience about the powerful programming of the last year – and what’s to come.

“We do many different things, and our schedule consists of spontaneity, and things which are very well prepared,” he said.

“We love new quality programmes like Cilla but we equally love our existing programmes. In a few weeks we’ll be back in the jungle. Last year, its 13th series was its most successful series ever. Coronation Street is 54 years in, and I don’t think in recent years any story has touched the audience quite like Roy and Hayley earlier this year. We like what’s familiar, we like what’s new, we like what’s surprising.”

The audience was treated to clips of new work ranging from Keith Lemon’s new sketch show to Trevor McDonald and the Mafia, from Granchester to the Great Fire, Downton Abbey, Thunderbirds and a world exclusive glimpse of Broadchurch 2. “ITV is a channel of many flavours,” said Fincham.

Rufus Radcliffe, ITV’s Marketing Director, gave the audience an introduction to ITV Be, the new channel featuring reality entertainment programming, which will launch next month. He also revealed a preview of the ITV Be idents – known as ‘mydents’ which are being made up of pictures submitted by viewers, and spoke about the Diet Coke sponsorship, which was announced this week.  “We’re thrilled to be working with such an iconic brand,” he said.

Finally, Mark Durden-Smith highlighted ITV’s upcoming coverage of the Rugby World Cup in 2015, helped by rugby stars Lawrence Dallaglio, Gareth Thomas, Scott Hastings and Danny Care.

Care, who is hoping to be part of the England World Cup team, said: “We’re incredibly confident and exciting – it’s an incredible time to be part of England rugby. We’re dying to get out there and play.”

Paddy McGuinness held the show together with his irreverent comedy, while Ella Henderson, Light Balance, Lucy Kay, Rough Copy, Collabro and Ben Hanlin provided entertainment for the crowds during the show and at a dazzling after-show party.

Check out the photo galleries, behind the scenes and Upfronts show cutdown tape here.

Words by Jenny Cornish