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Channel 4 wear criticism as a badge of honour

Aug 27, 2019
Channel 4 wear criticism as a badge of honour

Channel 4 is different to other broadcasters, and it was made to be different. It pushes the boundaries and challenges viewers where others are too prudish to even dip their toes. Whether it’s ‘Drugs Live’ or ‘Big Brother’, the broadcaster has never been frightened to take a risk and try something new.

One inevitable outcome of this bold approach is an increase in complaints. However, in typically unconventional style, Channel 4 responded with their ‘Complaints Welcome’ campaign. The campaign celebrates on-screen diversity by getting stars to read out genuine complaints about themselves.

The ad opens with Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson kissing his husband in front of a dining table laden with food. He turns to the camera and says, “I’m not homophobic but do we have to have gay-kissing at dinner time?” This sets the tone for the entire ad.

The advert continues to cover complaints ranging from attacks on disabled and black presenters to the derision of Paralympians. It ends on comedian and chat show host Mo Gilligan who hasn’t actually received a complaint; he winks to the camera and then Channel 4 instruct further complaints to be sent to a specific email address.

The anticipation of more complaints is the icing on the cake. It taunts those who have previously complained and practically dares them to complain in vain again.

The way they own criticism and stick their middle finger up at complaining viewers is ingenious. They’re comfortable with who they are, the values they promote, and they won’t flinch in the face of criticism.

The campaign is so good that agencies will be left ruing a missed opportunity and brands around the world will want to imitate its approach a million times over. Channel 4 said the advert intended to celebrate on-screen diversity while acknowledging its duty to spark debate. With that in mind, it certainly hit the brief.  

Self-assured and so very clever. This advert is an iconic mic drop moment for Channel 4, and every brand out there should take note.

Hit or miss? What was your reaction to Channel 4’s ‘Complaints Welcome’ campaign? Tweet us @otbtweeter with your thoughts. 


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