Institute for Screen Industries Research

This project, funded by the AHRC, investigated the emergence of new kinds of promotional culture for the television industry in the digital media era. TV and digital promotion has become a particular area of creative industry strength in the UK. However, as a sector, it has been overlooked in arts and humanities research. Through engaging with Britain’s leading media and broadcast design company, Red Bee Media, and other media communications companies, such as Crystal CG, Mindshare, JWT and the BBC, this project explored the priorities and challenges of this key UK creative industry sector.



A shelf in Red Bee’s offices displays props used for their re-branding of BBC Two and BBC Four and one of the many Promax awards that they have won for their work.



Project overview

Project overview

This project forms part of the broader research that Dr Paul Grainge and Dr Catherine Johnson have been pioneering into the study of the promotional screen industries, raising the status of a vibrant sub-sector of the global creative industries. Through engagement with key media practitioners, they have:

  • generated new ways of thinking about the role of promotion that have influenced the BBC’s use of online content by providing a new vocabulary for the ways in which the BBC can use and repurpose items from its archives and give them value as assets. 
  •  helped the UK’s leading broadcast design company Red Bee Media (with a global client base including the BBC, UKTV, Virgin Media, CCTV and Discovery International) to develop strategic business planning in TV and digital promotion. Through engagement with Red Bee personnel and projects, including 32 practitioner interviews, the research facilitated industrial self-reflection about disciplinary practice in the promotional screen industries. Knowledge exchange resulted in two internal reports to Red Bee’s Creative division that informed strategic business planning and catalyzed industrial-academic collaboration in the emerging area of social television.
  • increased public understanding of the art and heritage of screen promotion through public events that have raised the visibility of the creative and professional discipline of promotional design. The project involved the curation of two sell-out panel events at the BFI Southbank focused on ‘The Contemporary Art of TV Promotion and Design’ and ‘Pioneers of TV Promotion and Design’, featuring the Executive Creative Directors of Red Bee and Crystal London, major industry figures, including Martin Lambie-Nairn and David Liddiment, and continuity announcers and trailer-makers from the 1960s including David Hamilton and Maurice Kanareck. These panels offered public audiences the opportunity to learn about the creative process of TV and digital promotion. Members of the public commented on the events being ‘wonderful’ and ‘highly informative’ with the ‘archive promos being extraordinary’. Some said it was ‘great to have an unexplored art form given prominence’ and others encouraged ‘more BFI joint sessions like this’.
  • informed educational content planning at the British Film Institute. Working with the BFI on two panel events enabled personnel within the BFI’s television archive to digitally restore examples of historically valuable promotional texts for future public screenings and helped the BFI to identify new areas and attract new audiences. In addition, the panel events were preceded by a BFI masterclass for 15-25 year olds on ident and logo design, led by two creative directors from Red Bee. The masterclass was part of a broader competition in which young adults across the UK were invited to submit ideas for a logo/ident for the BFI’s ‘Future Film’ educational programme. The masterclass was attended by fifty design students from colleges across the UK with feedback indicating that students would be more likely to consider a job creating logos and idents as a result of the masterclass.



Selected publications for the project
  • Grainge, P. Brand Hollywood: Selling Entertainment in a Global Media Age. London: Routledge, 2008.

  • Johnson, C. Branding Television. London: Routledge, 2012.

  • Grainge, P., ed. Ephemeral Media: Transitory Screen Culture from Television to YouTube, London: British Film Institute, 2011.

  • Grainge, P. ‘Elvis Sings for the BBC: Broadcast Branding and Digital Media Design’. Media, Culture and Society, 2010, 32(1), 45-61.

  • Johnson, C. ‘From Brand Congruence to the ‘Virtuous Circle”: Branding and the Commercialization of Public Service Broadcasting’. Media, Culture and Society, 2013, 35(3), 314-331.

  • Grainge, P. ‘A Song and Dance: Branded Entertainment and Mobile Promotion’. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2012, 15(2), 165-180.

  • Johnson, C. ‘The Authorial Function of the Television Channel: augmentation and identity’. In Gray, J. and Johnson D., eds., A Companion to Media Authorship, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

  • Johnson, C. ‘The Continuity of “Continuity”: flow and the changing experience of watching broadcast television’, Keywords: a journal of cultural materialism, October 2013.

  • Catherine Johnson and Paul Grainge have produced a range of blogs about this project:

    Catherine Johnson, ‘The Mutual Benefits of Engaging with Industry’:

    Catherine Johnson, ‘“It’s Showtime!” and All That Jazz: promotion Christmas on the telly’:

    Catherine Johnson, ‘Creativity, Collaboration and Competition: what an industry conference might tell us about industrial self-reflexivity’:

    Catherine Johnson, ‘The Art of Promotion: Planet Earth Live’:

    Paul Grainge, ‘Mascot Media: Framing the London Olympics,’ blog post on the media academic website, Antenna, 25 June 2012:



Open educational resources

Paul Grainge and Catherine Johnson have produced two YouTube videos giving a little more insight into their research:



Catherine Johnson presented this project at the ‘Academics Into Industry’ symposium at the University of Hertfordshire in June 2013 in a paper entitled ‘The Mutual Benefits of Engaging with Industry?’


Arts and Humanties Research Council


Project team and collaborative partners

In the press

Press Release: The art of television promotion — why are logos, promos, idents and trailers so important?

The Chronicle of Higher Education: The University of Nottingham is 'a pioneer outpost on the paratextual frontier'



Institute for Screen Industries Research

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD