Uncommon and Director James Marsh Make Drama Great Again in First Work for ITV

By Patrick Coffee 

The Sopranos debuted just over 20 years ago, and we’ve all been in the please-don’t-call-it-Peak-TV era ever since.

You’ll be reminded of that fact as you watch this new campaign for British network ITV. It’s especially interesting because the agency behind the work is Uncommon Creative Studio, the still somewhat new venture launched by former Grey Europe chairman and CCO Nils Leonard after he resigned from that job.


Last year, ITV hired Uncommon to produce work with the goal of reminding viewers that it’s available across channels and devices by focusing on “the emotional power of great TV content” under the heading “More Than TV.”

The device? A series of stock characters like the ones you might expect to see in a prestige British drama, doing their respective dances. Here’s The Patriarch; let’s call him The Tony.

Quite a bit of action packed into 90 seconds there. Given that this show is produced in the U.K. and they’re not as prone to overreach as we Yankees, we’d say this is the final 10 minutes of a three-episode season.

Next comes The Guvnor, who embodies our favorite TV genre: British Crime Shows With a Strong Female Lead.

That was a clear reference to Broadchurch(?), which started strong but really didn’t need a third season.

These spots are also notable for being directed by James Marsh, who also helmed documentary Man on Wire and HBO series The Night Of, both of which were excellent, as well as the Stephen Hawking melodrama The Theory of Everything (skipped that one, didn’t have the time).

Here’s what Leonard had to say about the campaign:

“As a genre, drama uniquely compels, through powerful characters we become hooked, craving our immediate next fix. Think about your favorite characters. Or the ones that stick with you. Often these characters play out a recognizable archetype, even if we don’t realize it, they sit behind many of the dramas we watch. Reminding us of the people we love, the people we hate and sometimes even ourselves. These characters live beyond the screen, emphasizing the power great TV can have. This work is about provoking people to look again at ITV.”

Valid points, all.

The client’s CMO Rufus Radcliffe described these two as “the first in a series, which will later extend to other genres, featuring two of our great ITV drama characters, and the distinguished actors who bring them to life on screen.”

Wonder what will come next.


Agency: Uncommon Creative Studio
Client: ITV
Campaign: “Great Characters Make Great Drama”

Chief Marketing Officer: Rufus Radcliffe
Director of Viewer Marketing: Paul Ridsdale
Head of Marketing – Brand Project: Sian Jones
Director of Social Purpose: Clare Phillips

Media Agency: Goodstuff

Production Company: Pulse Films
Director: James Marsh
Executive Producer: Lucy Kelly
Producer: George Saunders
DOP: Benoit Delhomme
Editor: Sam Sneade @ Speade

Post Production: The Mill
Colorist: Dave Ludlam
Music Supervision : Jay James & Lius Almau @ Soundtree
Sound design : Henning Knoepfel @ Soundtree
Music for ‘The Patriarch’: Max Richter’s ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ – Universal
Music for ‘The Guvnor’: Abel Korzeniowski’s ‘Sunset’ – Chester Music Ltd