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BBC Studios Social unveils plans to work with Northern brands and agencies


Across top shows from Doctor Who, Bluey, BBC Earth or Top Gear, BBC Studios has unveiled plans to work with Northern agencies and brands through its new in-house advertising sales arm.

The newly-formed team behind BBC Studios Social, a division of commercial arm BBC Studios, is offering advertisers the opportunity to partner with its brand portfolio across over 90 social channels to reach global audiences. 

From direct sales, branded content or original content, it marks the first time that BBC Studios has offered ‘social-first’ branded opportunities in-house. 

With a global reach of 4.7bn views across all social platforms, BBC brands like Doctor Who reached 167 million views on YouTube and Facebook in 2022, whereas Bluey racked up 1.1 billion views on YouTube and has become the ‘fastest-growing’ preschool brand on TikTok. The team believe it presents a unique opportunity.

“With us taking this in-house and taking that ownership, it means that we can give a bespoke offering,” Jasmine Dawson, SVP of Digital Consumer Engagement, told Prolific North at an exclusive event in Manchester. “We can offer a single brand like Bluey or we can ask if you want to talk to a factual offering across our science channel through BBC Earth for example. It’s a real opportunity for us to not only control the narrative but also offer really unique opportunities.”

The team will be led by Dawson, which will have a presence across Manchester, London and New York. “We want to build that out,” she explained. “I think that the capability of being able to be all over the UK as well as over in the US was incredibly important to us and I think ultimately allows us to get a diverse range of capabilities and skill-sets.”

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Jasmine Dawson
Jasmine Dawson

Having a presence in the North and working with agencies in the region is for both business and personal reasons. “I have a real soft spot for the North,” she said. “I started my career up here and I think there’s tremendous innovation going on through our agencies.”

“You have to be more than just London focused”

With a long stint previously working at Mediacom, she initially started her career at an independent agency in Leeds. “For me, I think there’s a much stronger independent media agency roster than down south. We’ve had a lot of big conglomerates from Omnicom and WPP in London but we really wanted to expand our offering. I feel it’s really important to do that having come from an independent originally myself.

“We are starting to work with more and more creators from not only around this region but further North in Edinburgh. We really want to do more of that, so we have to come up here to shout louder and make sure that we’re not just another London launch. It’s also important for us to be able to really think about our production capabilities up here too. We have already worked with a lot of Northern production agencies but we want to really broaden out our roster.

“It’s a business imperative. You have to be able to be more than just London focused.”

Responsible for social growth strategy, she will be tasked with bringing the content and commercial arm together. “I sit in a really privileged, unique position as I have content on the one side and commercial on the other. We want to make content that not only really works for audiences but also works for advertisers. That’s where that sweet spot is, if all three are working together then it’s going to be successful.”

Number one social broadcaster

With plans to become the UK’s number one broadcaster on social, it’s all about creating “thumb-stopping content.” 

“Being the number one social broadcaster means creating content that is going to innovate and really stop people in their tracks and surprise them. There’s all that noise to be able to really get through to someone. We want to invest in ourselves and also find the new format in the future,” she explained. At the end of 2022, BBC Studios launched new digital comedy channel ‘Funny Parts’, featuring new shows such as Hack Attack which has proved to be a hit.

“Something like Hack Attack is a real win for us. It not only did amazingly well on social but our production teams are interested in taking it into tape format and sending it across the world. We can test new talent, test new formats, generate it and incubate it, then send it around the world whether that’s on big screens or small screens. We have that ability as part of BBC Studios.”

The new sales team will drive revenue across branded social platforms, led by ex-Warner executives Gary Webber, group head of digital advertising and Jasmin Islam, digital account director. But why now?

“We wanted to really come to market with a strong offering. To scale, we need to have the right brands and the right team in place and it collided for this year. We’ve been planning it for a long time but given there are so many fantastic competitors out there, we felt really had to bring something strong, especially given the economic climate. We wanted to come in with something that was that compelling.”

There are “so many different opportunities” for advertisers and agencies to get involved, ranging from sponsorship of an entire channel or opportunities to having brand, product or talent integration across an original series or branded elements across YouTube or Snapchat. 

“We want to find advertisers and clients that have similar values and then work on something together. We will define the editorial, but ultimately make sure that that brand is integrated,” she said. “We’re looking forward to beginning this exciting phase, welcoming new creative partners and creating amazing content together.”

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