NOVA Retools Its Image

Something brand, spanking new will accompany NOVA's 25th anniversary celebration this year, and it won't be documentary programming....
November 1, 1998

Something brand, spanking new will accompany NOVA’s 25th anniversary celebration this year, and it won’t be documentary programming.

An edgy, multi-media pro bono branding and advertising campaign is being created by a leading Boston ad agency to attract a younger demographic and position the show against burgeoning competition in the science genre.

‘PBS and its sub-brands such as NOVA face a proliferation of [competing] channels now, and have to fight for their piece of the audience. They definitely understand the need for marketing themselves in a contemporary way,’ says Jay Williams, executive VP and creative director at Arnold Communications, which landed the NOVA account thanks to a previous association with NOVA execs.

‘The campaign breathes new life into the series, makes it seem more contemporary and relevant to a younger TV audience,’ adds Williams. Rather than addressing existing viewers, the ads aim to increase awareness amongst the uninitiated of what NOVA stands for, which is programming that ‘makes you think – makes you turn your head around,’ Williams says.

Williams says the size of NOVA’s ad campaign is hard to measure, since this is normally measured by what the client is spending, and NOVA’s media buys are being handled in-house, utilizing a great degree of barter and trade. ‘With this campaign it’s tough to put a figure to it, but in terms of priority in the agency it’s high. It’s not that often you get national pro bono work of this scale,’ Williams notes. According to Williams, the bulk of the campaign will consist of on-air promos on PBS, as well as a print component including print ads and posters.

While current ads attempt to make shows already slated more accessible, Williams notes that the branding effort may have an impact on future projects at NOVA. ‘[The campaign] makes NOVA more accessible and more contemporary. Could this have an effect on the kinds of things they would pursue in the future? Possibly,’ Williams notes.

When approached with the branding job, Arnold executives agreed to take it on for no fee, with the admittedly selfish goal of doing award-winning creative. ‘On a personal level, we felt as though this was a great show,’ says Williams. ‘We saw it as a chance to work on a one-of-a- kind product, and a chance to do great work.’

See also: Nova – Celebrating 25 years

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.