For the first series of its drama Humans, Channel 4 released an immersive advertising campaign that had people wondering if synthetic humans were arriving onto the market. Well, we wondered for a few minutes at least, before admiring C4’s witty and in-depth marketing strategy for the show, which included setting up a fictional shop front on London’s Regent Street and selling the products on eBay.
At the end of the series – mild spoiler alert! – viewers saw a number of synths ‘going wrong’, and it is this theme that is picked up in the new marketing for the second series, which is centred around a product recall of malfunctioning synths. Channel 4 has once again had fun with the possibilities of this, releasing a TV spot, as well as an interview between the real editor-in-chief of the New Scientist and a fictional spokesperson from Persona Synthetics, the makers of the synths. Both are shown below.
In addition to this, there have been trucks appearing in cities across the UK, seemingly from Persona’s ‘synthetic human collection service’.
The marketing all pushes audiences towards a product recall website for Persona, personasynthetics.com/productrecall, where the fun really begins. Amongst other things, you are given the opportunity to chat via Faceboook Messenger with a synth, who – spoiler alert again! – starts to malfunction during the conversation. It is extremely well done, and as with most things Facebook, very diverting. Channel 4 partnered with Facebook’s Creative Shop to create the bot, which is the first ever AI created for purely entertainment purposes in Europe.
It could be argued that going to such depths is a little indulgent for a second series – after all, fans of the show know the premise now, and it will just be confusing for those who didn’t see the first series. But actually, it’s left me excited to tune in again, and due to the brilliantly pitched blurred lines between fiction and reality in the campaign, it’s a perfect reminder of how chilling the premise of the show is.
ECDs: Chris Bovill, John Allison
Senior art director: Jim Chambers
Creatives: Tom Espezel-Bentley, Nina Beyers
Director: Alex Boutell
Design: Aimi Awang, Jacob Vanderkar, Chris Rice