UKTV’s Dave turns to experiential marketing to 'take ourselves off the telly'

UKTV-owned comedy channel Dave looks to become an entertainment proposition

UKTV-owned comedy channel Dave is to push into experiential and event marketing in a bid to reposition itself as an entertainment brand.

UKTV’s head of marketing Nick Gilmer has issued a call to brands and organizations to pitch ideas that Dave can partner on, with the ambition to launch both paid and sponsored projects in 2022.

“We are setting out to be more of an entertainment brand and take ourselves off the telly, so it feels right we should do something tangible and in the real world,” says Gilmer. “This can really move Dave’s brand to the next level.”

Gilmer references its ‘Build Your Own Bar’ campaign as a statement of intent. Launched last year, Dave offered fans the chance to buy a £250 flatpack pub similar to the one featured in its show Meet The Richardsons. “Every one of our shows comes with a playful opportunity to do those kinds of things.”

Known for its shows such as Taskmaster, Hypothetical and Big Zuu’s Big Eats, Gilmer describes Dave as a comedy brand at its heart, saying that its ambition is to “provide moments of levity and be that funny mate you can have a laugh with”. And, he says, ”that is our direction in our marketing”.

Recently, he tells us, Dave partnered with Calm, the male suicide prevention charity, to host a mental health check-in event at the Murdock Barbers. It was, he says, “a lovely example of Dave as a living breathing proposition that is newsworthy and gets talked about in a positive way”.

To consolidate this strategy, Gilmer’s marketing team is collaborating with UKTV’s PR and comms teams to execute “newsworthy” media plans. “We don’t enjoy the same marketing budgets as these big US entrants, but we are cool with that. Dave is a nimble and agile brand that punches above its weight.“

Growing its social presence is key to evolving Dave into an entertainment proposition. Gilmer identifies Facebook and YouTube as areas of focus, with plans to ramp up Dave’s original short-form programming on both.

Although he acknowledges the popularity of TikTok and Twitch, Gilmer says Facebook remains a crucial asset for his team – a shift from his predecessor, Cherie Cunningham. “Facebook is an interesting place and reaches an enormous amount of people,“ he says. “It’s as close as you can get to a broadcasting social media.”

Elsewhere, Gilmer’s strategic priority is to get audiences to view Dave content on UKTV’s streaming platform, UKTV Play. Since Dave has the largest youth audience and strongest brand awareness in the UKTV portfolio, the focus is to use Dave as the driver to bring younger audiences into UKTV Play and then feed them content from sister channels.

In 2021, Dave managed to grow its share of 16-34 audience by 14% last year, says Gilmer, arguing that: ”There is a myth that young people don’t watch telly any more, but we are seeing a significant number of young audiences coming to Dave!”

The recent return of the youth-focused BBC Three to linear provides further proof, he says. “I see that as an endorsement of UKTV’s strategy to back Dave as a linear channel for younger audiences.”

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