Seeing stars at C4’s Plannertarium

Kristian Whitefoot

What is the Plannertarium?

Although it might sound like a celestial TV show hosted by Sir Patrick Moore, the Plannertarium is in actual fact an event hosted by TV’s Channel 4, within the grounds of a chic vineyard resort in the scenic Berkshire countryside. The event has been running each year since 2009 and invites 36 willing agency advocates for a full day and night of topical media innovation and inspiration sessions (and a touch of alcohol afterwards).

How did I get involved?

I have to admit that I went into the application process with slight apprehension, not only because I’d heard from people within the agency that it was pretty difficult to get a place on the course, but also having failed to make the cut for past Plannertariums. So when it came to hitting the send button, I didn’t think much of it and certainly didn’t really expect to hear anything back. Fortunately, I did and was one of the lucky 36.

What was the hot topic of the day?

The key focus for the event was understandably TV sponsorship, with a number of sessions throughout the day delivered by Channel 4 representatives, as well as external marketeers from KAYAK, ALLIANZ and the very hipster GiffGaff.

Is it hard work?

In typical media style, this was a work hard/play hard environment. A number of sessions take place, followed by group pitches and a response which would require some innovative thinking to provide the perfect sponsorship opportunity for The Great British Bake Off.

The work was followed up with an evening of wine tasting, sampling just a few of the vineyard’s 30,000+ collection of wines, a 3 course meal and a party to celebrate the day’s events, so it wasn’t bad!

What surprises did they have in store?

One of the sessions also featured a Q&A with the younger members of Gogglebox’s Michael family who explained what it means for them to have a sponsorship deal in place for the biggest TV show in the UK. They stuck around to judge the pitch and also for the wine tasting, partying into the evening.

Did I learn anything?

Definitely. It was a really insightful and worthwhile experience. One session I found particularly interesting was a research piece undertaken by Channel 4. The study has taken over five years with over 100 individual studies and more than 80,000 people involved. Some snapshots of the study were genuinely surprising with the following results showing the value of sponsorship:

  • 56% of those who have viewed brand sponsorship have an improved opinion of the brand
  • 89% see the brand as more trustworthy
  • More sponsorship is actually ‘wanted’ by the public
  • 16-34 year olds are the audience most influenced by sponsorship
  • Targeting a specific gender improves response