Since Thursday UTV has carried ITV branding as a temporary measure brought about by the coronavirus crisis. It would be wrong to review this in the way one would if it had happened because of a routine creative decision. But it’s still interesting to try to assess how the unexpected new look is working out in practice.
UTV’s logo was redesigned in 2016 to fit in with ITV’s – at the same time in-vision continuity was dropped. A year later, trailers started to carry the main ITV voiceover but they were rebranded. More references to ITV started to creep in during sponsorship announcements and the like too.
So the switch to full ITV branding on network trails is simply evolutionary. In itself, this makes little difference. Viewers already saw promos for the other ITV channels and ITV corporate promotions. Local trails still appear to be carrying UTV branding so in a sense this is like the late-90s and early noughties in England and Wales.
The change of DOG is, if anything, an improvement. The ITV logo is smaller and does not jump on a few frames out-of-sync with the programme, unlike the UTV DOG. Currently it is usually supplemented by a separate DOG promoting ITV’s Britain Get Talking mental health campaign. In normal times this might be a bit irritating but as ITV’s initiative is to be commended in the current crisis it would seem mean to attack it. One life saved is worth a little visual distraction.
Viewers can now see how UTV’s own logo fully complements the ITV corporate logo. In itself, ITV promotions do not weaken what still remained of UTV’s local identity. Anyone likely to care knew full well that UTV was owned by ITV and was part of the ITV network.
It’s also nice to see the ITV Creates idents in action and end credit promotions help enliven the turgid black and white credits, deliberately made minimalist to allow for them.
In short – seeing the UTV logo confined to local output works perfectly well in practice. ITV for network output – UTV for local output. There is logic to it.
The change which does make a difference to the feel and the character of the station is the loss of announcers Julian and Gillian. Julian, in particular, was a personality – not everyone liked his style but he was known by everyone in Northern Ireland and is a local legend. Gillian’s style is rather BBC-ish in contrast.
Because UTV announcers remained on screen until three-and-a-half years ago, some viewers are bound to miss them – especially at an anxious time like this. Some of the ITV network announcers have, shall we say, very different styles – this is not like the replacement of a BBC announcer in the nations with their network counterpart. Gillian has promised viewers that she and Julian will be back as soon as possible.
As I said, this is all temporary and brought about by dreadful circumstances. But if will be interesting to see whether the ITV branding in Northern Ireland has much impact on viewers.
PICTURED: UTV break bumper. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.