Dougal Wilson and 4Creative have created a series of idents for Channel 4, following a lumbering metallic giant formed from the channel’s recognisable logo blocks as he roams the British Isles. In the series of four films shot around the UK, the giant takes in rolling countryside, seaside, cliffs and suburban streets, trying and failing to keep up with wheelchair racers, causing havoc in a sleepy village, joining in a game of football and transporting one group of people across the sea.
Designed to personify the broadcaster’s values and remit to “take creative risks, inspire change and represent a diverse range of voices”, the giant is depicted as cheeky, playful, helpful and even childlike, as he interacts with people around the country. “The giant (it is unclear whether it’s a he or a she) has a personality that reflects Channel 4,” says Dougal. “So some people are going to like it, and some aren’t so much. Hopefully people will be entertained, but beyond that, hopefully people will also take something out of them about what Channel 4 stands for – inclusion and diversity.”
“The giant embodies our brand,” 4Creative tells It’s Nice That. “It supports a diverse Britain and acts as a platform for those that don’t have a voice. It’s imperfect and fallible but at the same time risky and mischievous. You don’t have to agree with it – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea all of the time – but it makes an important impact on modern Britain. We wanted people to warm to the giant and all its quirks. And we wanted the giant to make a powerful point in each spot – whether acting as a ‘fanfare’ that provokes debate, to running alongside disability and youth, to celebrating a culturally rich society.”
Each short sequence ends with the giant singing the Channel 4 jingle in a booming voice, a reference to the broadcaster’s original 1982 ident by agency Lambie-Nairn. The giant’s mnemonic is a remaster of the original ad’s Fourscore soundtrack. The aesthetic of the giant also draws on the broadcaster’s previous idents which saw the blocks of it’s “4” logo deconstructed and reassembled in various scenes.
“We wanted the spots to feel very British, warm and filmic,” 4Creative says. “Dougal and (cinematographer) Daniel Landin spent a lot of time making the giant feel like a natural part of the environment in the same way the Angel of the North makes you gasp with wonder when you first see it, but it feels like it belongs there. The surfaces of the giant take on the reflections of all its surroundings. Green rolling hills. Dark red brick houses. The ocean and the chalk cliffs. The huge magic hour sky. We wanted it to feel other-worldly in texture, too – a mix of the past and of the future.”
Dougal continues: “The giant looks like it does basically because that’s the humanoid shape that the Channel 4 blocks happen to make. We wanted it to appear against the landscapes in a slightly matter-of-fact way, despite the fact that it’s a huge giant.”
The shorts were made with visual effects company MPC and produced by Blink Productions. Dougal previously collaborated with 4Creative on the acclaimed We’re the Superhumans Paralympics campaign.
“Our new idents couldn’t be more Channel 4,” says Alice Tonge, head of 4Creative. "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.”