The Project has released a new campaign, which aims to define its role as the 7pm news and current affairs show for viewers. The new launch aligns with the change of hosts as Jeremy Corbett fills the shoes of departing comedian Josh Thomson.
The campaign presents original hosts Kanoa Lloyd and Jesse Mulligan prepping for the show. As the pair walk on stage, they turn around and find an unfamiliar face in Jeremy Corbett tagging behind. When the clock strikes 7pm, Corbett declares they are “right on time” as the three hosts stand on stage representing the new line up.
The additional spot cements why The Project fits the bill for a 7pm news and current affairs show. Corbett says, “you’ve got the news there, being all serious and you’re getting a lot of information, when The Project arrives the party starts”.
The spot is filmed behind the scenes and provides a synopsis of what The Project represents in a relaxed and open style. Mulligan says, “we’re just normal people and we try to have the same conversations as people would be having at home”.
MediaWorks creative director Bryce McNamara says 7pm is a critical time slot as it's the meeting ground between the day’s news and the evening’s entertainment.
“At its core, the campaign is about keeping it simple and playing to these strengths: an exceptional trio of core hosts who have a responsibility to deliver that 7pm experience. They’re backed by a smorgasbord of celebrity guests, fervent debate and stories that cut to the heart of the matter.”
Head of marketing at MediaWorks Rebecca Saunders echoes the point of the interesting nature of the 7pm slot, as people transition from responsibility into relaxation and entertainment. She says this is what 7pm is about and what The Project does; turning news topics of the day and discussing them like friends would.
She adds that the 7 Days presenter and well-recognised New Zealand comedian Jeremy Corbett is fitting for the show.
“Jeremy’s addition to the line-up provided a great opportunity to launch the new campaign and added an appropriate comedic twist in the TV creative.”
The Project has changed its tone since its original spot in February last year when the hosts broke into song and dance.
McNamara says the grandiose approach of its campaign last year reflected the launch of a new show, which aimed to grab the imagination of its audience.
“The show has evolved in slight increments since then due to experience and understanding about or audience but it’s not drastic. This latest spot is simply a celebration of 7PM and spotlights our power-trio Kanoa, Jesse and Jeremy.”
Asked how difficult it was to rebrand an established show, Saunders says there was definitely an element of difficulty in getting attention for a show that has "great awareness already".
"At this stage in the game, it’s about calling out that we have what our audience say they want”.
McNamara adds, “we didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel but we did put some mags on it. Our on-air assets across the channel look a bit different, but they still look like The Project.”
In terms of audience ratings for the 7pm current affairs and news slot 2017 Nielsen data shows Seven Sharp had an average 5+ audience of 449,949. That compares to 168,000 for The Project, a show that has always brought more comedy to current affairs.
Using the same data in a focused demographic of those aged between 25-54, the gap slimmed significantly; The Project had 73,516 viewers in this demo – close to half its total audience – while Seven Sharp had 102,222 – less than one-quarter of its total audience.
With each news organisation using an infotainment style of news broadcasting, media experts have agreed the role that presenters play on the current affairs slot is integral to the show’s success.
Therefore, it will be interesting to see whether the shift in comedians will meddle with The Projects audience numbers.