It’s been just over a year since UKTV put together its very own in-house creative team, and the group has marked the momentous occasion with the recent release of a beautifully designed, immaculately conceptualized… employee purpose video.
Yes it’s true—one of the year’s most delightful creative works is essentially a corporate brand spot intended for the eyes of one company’s 250-ish employees. When the corporate entity in question is a broadcasting powerhouse with 11 networks under its belt including W, Dave, Gold and Alibi, the standards for such projects are a little different.
“We are a creative company and I think doing work in-house, you want the creative standards to still remain high,” said Peter Allinson, head of design for UKTV. “Everyone sees it and it keeps us all in a creative standards mindset.”
From the beginning, the intention behind the purpose video was that it be not just for the employees but also by them, letting them influence and shape it at every stage. Before work on the actual spot even began, extensive efforts were made simply to hone in on what it would say. “We held focus groups to really distill down how everyone here feels about working at UKTV, what our values are, what we come to work to do,” said Kerry Parker, the company’s head of network communications. “There was a lot of collaborative work across the company to create that messaging, and we ended up with one line which really seems to sum up UKTV and why we’re all here.”
The line drops at the video’s conclusion, announced with celebratory flair by not one, not two, but three different staff members, each enunciating a different section: “UKTV—Entertaining the nation from a place where anything is possible.” It was important to include employees even at the voiceover level, explained Scott Russell, creative director for UKTV, because “There’s a lot of information in there and it started to get a little corporate-sounding, and the very last thing we wanted it to do was that,” he said. Having staff tackle the speaking parts, “made it much more relatable, with people recognizing people and recognizing themselves. It made it much more engaging.”
For the look and feel of the purpose spot’s animation, Allinson conceived of a “beautifully rendered 3D isometric world using distinctive, vibrant pastel colors,” he said. Fully realized, it’s a concept that looks amazing on-screen, but it was also a handy practical device, bringing all 11 of the otherwise fairly disparate UKTV network brands into a shared space, where they are clearly united yet also functioning in their own distinct ways.
To ensure each brand’s own mini-environment popped with nuance and life, Allinson’s team went around the UKTV building shooting hundreds of photos of objects, architecture and other things that would resonate with the staff. Items that made the cut in the final spot include a man dressed in armor, cute names on the doors of conference rooms such as “Room With the Big Pink Sofa” and “Room Over There, and a giant parrot head that was part of a marketing stunt along the River Thames for the broadcast of Monty Python’s final stage show on UKTV Gold. The spot’s central hub, the UKTV building itself, includes depictions of some company milestones worth rallying around, such as being named one of the country’s 100 Best Places to Work by The Sunday Times. “We wanted everyone in the company to recognize things,” Russell said.
With all the details captured, distilled and categorized into their proper brand environments, the in-house team sent them to their fellow Londoners at Cookie Studio for the 3D animation. Cookie used Cinema 4D to design gray-scaled, non-textured wire frame stills of a total of seven spaces, including the building itself, with some of the brands condensed into one space, such as Good Food and Home.
Once all seven spaces were approved by UKTV, Cookie could flesh them out with all colors and textures added, and then the teal background color could be selected for all of them. It was only then that the studio could begin animating, again using the functional, gray-scale wire frame technique to demonstrate camera movements and spatial dimensions without over-committing in the wrong direction. “Once we were happy with the timings and speed of the camera move, only then could each individual space be intricately animated,” Allinson said.
The final spot was so impressive, UKTV requested each brand space be broken out into the individual loops seen throughout this post, which have also been turned into gifs by and showed off on the company’s Instagram. There is even a plan in the works to turn them into elements of employee signatures on emails — which may be the greatest unifying factor of the whole project. After all, who wouldn’t be thrilled to work somewhere where every email message you send has something like this whirring away next to your name: