Channel 4 ‘Giant Idents’/ 4Creative
In its first ident rebrand since 2015, Channel Four brings its famous ‘4’ logo to life, by using the same shaped blocks to construct a giant silver ‘stick man’ who wanders the UK interacting with humans in situations that depict life in Britain. Filmed in picturesque locations across the nation, the entity’s presence is striking as its solid metal mass contrasts against the luscious British countryside or homely terraced street, creating a sense of the channel’s important existence in British consciousness.
There are four idents in the series which will feature in short clips between the channel’s programming. In one, we see the giant taking a walk through the green and hilly British countryside. It stops at a cliff edge and then, to the viewer’s surprise, lets out a huge quirky bellowing sound. The surrounding towns appear to have a love hate relationship with the call, as we see children gleeful at being physically moved by the sound’s powerful force, whilst the older generation are seen sitting in their living room with ear protectors on to block it out. The call harks back to the sound of the channel’s 1982 ident by Martin Lambie-Nairn.
The new idents also pay homage to the 1982 version by remastering and utilising its jingle ‘Fourscore’ to create the soundtrack of the new work. The ads take the original, which sounds rather like a brass fanfare announcement that you would hear at the start of a news programme, and turn it into a quaint, gentle acoustic number which fits perfectly alongside the narrative and sentiment of the giant’s ventures.
By using these nostalgic references, it helps to make the older viewer still feel relevant and part of the channel four ‘family’, even if the channel prioritises pleasing the younger generation. And for the youngsters who weren’t around to remember Lambie-Nairn’s original, the updated version helps make them feel part of the history of the brand, even if they were not there at the time, again tying all viewers together as being cut from the same Channel Four cloth.
The bellowing call also acts as a metaphor for the way in which Channel Four voices its opinion whether it pleases people or not. This works hand in hand with the ident which shows the giant carrying a group of people from other cultures across the British channel and dropping them off on the classic British site, the White Cliffs of Dover. The channel makes a bold statement by expressing its views of the subject of immigration at a time in which it is still a highly debated topic in Brexit talks.
Despite being an undeniably endearing character, the mythical metal creature is not a ‘people pleaser’, which becomes apparent in one spot in which its ‘squeaky clean’ character unravels. We see the giant having a kick-about with a group of children on a typical British street when it accidentally kicks the ball through a neighbour’s window before running off with its human friends on board. This scene again represents the channel’s mischievous and rebelliousness nature compared to other broadcasters, and positions it as a channel which is unafraid to upset the status quo.
The spots were created by 4Creative and directed by Dougal Wilson, the mastermind behind the channel’s award-winning ‘We’re the superhumans’ campaign. It is not surprising, then, that another ident includes the giant running alongside a group of wheelchair athletes which it is ultimately outrun by. Oscar-winning visual effects company MPC also contributed to the ad’s creation.
Compared to the channel’s previous idents by Jonathan Glazer, the new idents offer a more accessible narrative. Glazer’s idents were more abstract, focussing on how the channel’s iconic logo blocks were formed and their impact on the world. The new work sees the blocks actually interacting with the current world and showing what affect they (i.e channel four) can have.
In summary, the new idents are a breath of fresh air. The playful creature captures the spirit of the brand by celebrating diversity and is both entertaining and emotional. It is impressive how the channel has been successful in creating a personality for a series of nine silver blocks in four short clips and one which is sure to touch and warm hearts. Having debuted during the Great British Bake Off final, which received the highest viewing figures for the channel since the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, the idents will have reached and resonated with a large number of people and likely draw them back to its other programming.
Alice Tonge, head of 4Creative, said of the campaign: "Our new idents couldn’t be more Channel 4 – they celebrate inclusion, diversity, youth and the channel’s big noisy alternative voice. The brand sits at the heart of each film which remind viewers not only what they’re watching but why they are watching Channel 4."