London-based agency Uncommon has created a series of print ads for ITV that transform family conversations into TV listings styled as though they have been ripped out of a magazine. Featuring difficult conversations like a son coming out to his father or parents apologising to children for being snappy, the project is part of a broader campaign from ITV to encourage mental awareness and wellbeing.
Researchers have found that the amount of quality time families spend together has decreased since the millennium, as well as a rise in “alone-together” time where families are in the same space but not mentally present. “In that scenario people are on their phones or watching TV,” says Uncommon co-founder Nils Leonard. “ITV are part of that canvas so they wanted to do something about it – the worst thing they could have done is just run a normal ad.”
The premise of the print campaign, which will run in The Guardian, The Observer and The Sunday Times Culture Magazine, is to convey the drama happening in the living room, rather than on screen, and to encourage people to schedule in time to chat with their family members.
In terms of the aesthetic, Uncommon turned to the “master” of TV listings The Radio Times. Inspired by its layout, colour-coding and “ever so slightly shit stock”, Uncommon fed the succinct and snappy vignettes into the TV listing format.
Initial iterations were too easily mistaken for actual listings so Uncommon came up with the ripping device to make each of the stories stand out. “The ripped out gag has been done in advertising before, so we wanted to find a way to make it feel less familiar,” says Leonard. The solution was to create a large amount of white space around each story, giving each narrative a poignant feel.
The ads are part of ITV’s wider Britain Get Talking campaign, which recently involved an on-screen campaign (also by Uncommon) where the broadcaster paused Saturday night TV to inspire families to chat.