DAVID reviews

9 January 2018

Giving brands a bump.

by Jason Stone


ITV's finances may not live or die by its viewing figures at the weekends but they're certainly a barometer of the network's fortunes. It wouldn't be surprising then if there was a degree of tension at their headquarters this weekend as they unveiled their New Year's schedule.

New series of 'The Voice', 'Take Me Out' and 'Dancing On Ice' all kicked off and it wasn't just the broadcaster who will have been waiting to see the numbers with bated breath... the sponsors will also have had their fingers crossed.

There can be little doubt that the programme generating the biggest expectations is 'The Voice'. Poached from the BBC two years ago, the star-studded talent show is a feel-good version of the ailing X Factor behemoth.

Whereas Simon Cowell's jury sneers at contestants hand-picked for humiliation, it's clear that everyone selected for The Voice's stage has a chance of making progress. There are still moments of disappointment for hope-filled singers but they're not contrived by producers eager to accenuate distress.

There's a very warm connection between the judges - Tom Jones, Jennifer Hudson, Will.I.Am and Olly Murs - and the studio audience. Between the auditions, the quartet clown around and perform songs, giving it a genuinely impromptu feel.

For giffgaff's Tom Rainsford and Abi Pearl, the relaxed atmosphere and - even more importantly - the genuinely nurturing relationship between the judges and the contestants creates the perfect fit for the telecom brand. They describe the positive nature of the programme as a huge factor in their decision to become its new sponsors.

The Voice has a high level of social media engagement and this contributes to the natural synergy for a company which has worked hard to build a significant online presence.

The encouraging news for both ITV and giffgaff is that the audience numbers were impressive. The audience peaked at a respectable 6.1m, sightly down on last year's opener but considerably better than the 4.4m who were watching the last few weeks of The X Factor in December.

match.com are an interesting choice as sponsors of 'Take Me Out'. Obviously, it's a dating game show so ostensibly it looks like a good fit but the programme itself is like the entertainment you'd expect to find aboard a cruise liner commandeered by Club18-30.

While this sends an encouraging dog whistle to those who employ dating services to find extremely short-term occupants for the vacancy in their lives, it doesn't entirely fit with match.com's stated ambition to facilitate long-term relationships.

With Phillip Schofield at the centre of their latest advertising campaign, it probably isn't surprising that WeBuyAnyCar decided to sponsor Dancing On Ice as it returned to television after a four year break as the silver-haired presenter is on of its fixtures and fittings.

Comedian Tim Key - who provides the sardonic voiceovers in the marquee work - does the same here and this provides another connection. Unfortunately, the sponsorship bumpers themselves have the look of something thrown together a couple of days before the start of the series.

There has been a shift in the format since its hiatus with a less prominent role for Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean... something that appears to have contributed to a disappointing response from both critics and the public.

Dancing On Ice's judges are more 'X Factor' than 'The Voice' and their negative comments led many of those commenting on social media to feel a little, er, cold.

Perhaps with everything that's going on in the world at the moment, TV audiences are hoping for a little compassion on a Saturday night, and they're just a bit weary of conflict and argument... if that's the case then perhaps ITV can expect The Voice's audience to grow over the next couple of months. We'll have to see.

David Reviews is hand-crafted by Lovely Lenzie Ltd, 7 Seven Sisters, Lenzie, Glasgow, G66 3AW. Editor: Jason Stone. Phone: 0141 776 7766. E-mail: jason@davidreviews.com.