Category A09. Media / Entertainment
Idea Creation 2 OMD UK London, UNITED KINGDOM
Media Placement OMD UK London, UNITED KINGDOM
Name Company Position
Kathryn DeKeyser OMD UK Managing Partner
Isobel Dracup OMD UK Associate Director
Riya Thakerar OMD UK Planning Manager
Joe Cartlidge OMD UK Digital Director
Chris Mitchell OMD UK Stratrgist
Ben Graham OMD UK Associate Director
Maddy Walters OMD UK Planner
Dan Brooke Channel 4 Chief Marketing and Communication Officer
James Walker Channel 4 Head of Marketing
Grace Ayres Channel 4 Group Marketing Manager
Nic Moran Channel 4 Group Marketing Manager
Michelle Owusu Channel 4 Marketing Manager
Clare Morrish Channel 4 Marketing Manager
Jane English 4Creative Creative Director
Christos Savvides 4Creative Senior Digital Producer
Olivia Emmerson 4Creative Creative Producer

Why is this work relevant for Media?

We gave the British public a taste of Gilead’s twisted fundamentalist state with our provocative censorship campaign, focusing on clever context, precision targeting and a bold, controversial idea that was entirely dependable on the media. By making people stop and think about what it means to live in a free society today, we turned series two of The Handmaid’s Tale into a success for Channel 4.


The Handmaid’s Tale was one of the most talked about shows of 2017. It’s set in the totalitarian society of Gilead – formerly the United States. Here, women’s rights have been stripped away in barbaric, shocking fashion. They’re forced to serve elite men and their barren wives by bearing their children as handmaids. For the return of Channel 4’s Emmy and BAFTA-award winning drama, our challenge was to build on the buzz and momentum of series one and get people tuning in once more in their droves. We needed to generate the levels of anticipation that would ultimately bring 1.5 million viewers to the first episode.

Describe the creative idea/insights

Series two is shaped by the lead character Offred’s pregnancy and her on-going fight to free her future child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead. This patriarchal regime controls the fate of these women and horrifically removes their freedoms, bringing its fundamentalist ways into everyday life. At a time when the gender pay gap debate was prominent and women all over the world are rightly speaking out against harassment and for equality, we knew that the show’s subject matter was very timely. In fact, we saw an opportunity to add to the debate with our campaign for the show.

Describe the strategy

To forcibly attract attention for the show, we decided to create temporary outrage with messaging that assumed the voice of Gilead. We would give the public a taste of this twisted fundamentalist state with our provocative campaign, with the oppression of women as its subject matter. The campaign took a heavy dose of bravery from Channel 4. We developed a series of frightening messages from Gilead officials, enforcing their laws in modern day Britain. Our censorship messages were unmissable, deliberately planned for contextual relevance to supercharge their brutal impact.

Describe the execution

A Metro cover-wrap read ‘Women are not allowed to read this newspaper’ and was supported with full-page ads in the Evening Standard and female targeted national press supplements. At key commuter train stations across the country, we ran high impact DOOH placements telling those on the way to and from work ‘The city is no place for a woman. A woman’s place is at home’ and ‘The only job for a woman is to reproduce’. And we partnered with Amazon to outrage Kindle readers via a blunt message on the wake screen, stating ‘Women are not allowed to read’. Once we’d achieved our temporary outrage goal, we revealed the true nature of the campaign with awareness messages which appeared online, in Cinema and on OOH.

List the results

By making people stop and think about what it means to live in a free society today, we turned series two of The Handmaid’s Tale into a success for Channel 4. Our Kindle wake screen messaging received over 15,000 clicks. Half of UK adults were aware that season 2 was returning. And on launch night, 2.1 million people tuned in, up +22% for volume vs the slot average, bringing in 30% more 16-54-year-old viewers than the slot norm and 65% more women.