Submitted By Member: WayneD
Back in 2001 I worked for the cable TV company Telewest (later bought by Virgin Media).
There were a lot of things happening in the industry during this time, Sky was switching off it’s analogue Astra satellite service, Telewest themselves had stopped installing new analogue cable boxes to customers, interactive services were becoming quite lucrative, Sky+ had just launched and above all else people were starting to really get into this new-fangled thing called the internet but it was severely limited as the only thing really available was dial-up internet.
Enter Telewest, they’d had broadband internet on trial and were about to launch it to the general public and with this, they were to change the company name to Telewest Broadband with a new logo, new slogan and a massive advertising campaign. The future looked bright!
They put on a “Telewest Broadband Roadshow” which really was as cringe as it sounds, a big event for all employees with the company patting itself on the back, saying how brilliant it is, etc etc but the main event was their massive TV advertising campaign which we were to have an exclusive viewing of. Seriously! They made us sign non-disclosure agreements before we entered the room. Our host for this was some regional radio DJ none of us had ever heard of.
Now, something else that happened in 2001 if you didn’t already know was the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. This company rebranding event was literally two weeks after this as the TV ad was due to be shown in October. The whole world was still recovering from September 11th. Tensions are high.
The lights are dimmed, they show us the advert, which is set in a graveyard. The voiceover describes the people in the graves, their previous occupations, how different they are to each other but they all have one thing in common… “They’re jealous!” camera pans out to alive people on the street, implying that dead people will never get to enjoy broadband internet!
The lights come back up. Absolutely stunned silence from the whole room! The host, not quite reading the room says with a big smile: “So, whaddya think?” Still stunned silence. People start to mumble to each other and the host runs over with the mic to the people nearest the front and asks their opinion. It takes an awkward 30 seconds for the poor sod with the mic shoved in his face to process what he’d just seen and says: “Was that supposed to be funny?” The person next to him says: “Tell me you’re seriously not going to run this ad?” The whole room pretty much echoed the feeling. Someone who apparently commissioned this ad quickly ran to the host and took the mic and says: “Yes, we’re running this ad. It’s very good” cue further louder mumbling from people.
Did they run the ad? Well… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_EX1JZpurQ
It wasn’t shown for long.