Fox & Made In Chelsea: A perfect plot placement match


Teens are very good at ignoring us advertising folk. Exposed to an ad every 11.52 seconds, their coping mechanism has been to cut through to the content they’re really after. Unless an advertisement is personally relevant and valuable it is blocked, skipped or ignored so that they can get to the things they care about.

When launching Fox’s Paper Towns, this was a problem… a big problem. While our lack of budget was an issue (metaphorically beating the audience over the head still remains an occasionally effective way of getting noticed), personal relevance was the issue.

A maudlin anti-love story, the film tells the story of a hopelessly in-love teenager chasing a girl who definitely doesn’t love him back. No happy ending ensues; no optimism is provided. For an audience so resolutely focused on enjoying the here and now, it wasn’t the easiest sell – and the reviews didn’t help.

Therefore, at launch our challenge was to find a way of taking a difficult, gloomy story and making it feel relevant, fresh and attractive for an audience minded to ignore most stuff anyway. We had our work cut-out.


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If our unorthodox story wouldn’t capture their attention on its own, we were going to cheat. Like a mother hiding broccoli under the mashed potato for a picky child, we would find a maker of teens’ beloved content and feature our story in the middle of what teens wanted to watch and what they wanted to talk about.

Made in Chelsea was our chosen vehicle: it’s the highest watched show for our audience at 32% and is a property that’s always being talked about. We found the perfect parallel between our story and what was happening within the show and used it as the ideal opportunity to spark conversations.

With 58% teens ignoring brands in advertising, we knew that Paper Towns had to be something that the show’s storyline hinged on.

We worked with the show’s writers to identify the right moment in the series that was compatible with the film’s story – one of fleeting young love. We found it in the love story developing between Jamie and Naz, two of the show’s characters.

We then staged a private screening of Paper Towns as a date for the pair in the show itself, creating a moment in the story where Paper Towns was the focus. Jamie & Naz then chatted about the film, and the plot, as you would on any date to the movies, whilst we then edited in the bits of footage they were talking about into the show – seamlessly integrating our content so that our audience could view it naturally in the middle of the program.

The show was the centerpiece of a bigger launch campaign, designed to create excitement for the storyline in our audience’s world, and encouraging them to share with their friends. We promoted the episode with E4 getting the casts of both Made in Chelsea and the film (with millions of social followers) to highlight the activity to their audiences.

During the show and in the break following the all-important scene a first-in-break trailer spot encouraged viewers to tweet in their reactions to the show and the trailer. The same spot played out in VOD and we dominated All 4’s display inventory to ensure heightened awareness among teen viewers, while reaction and endorsement of the show was subsequently promoted on social – to extend the organic reach of the activity.


Against all the odds, this slightly unusual film – helped by the media first use of content placement – became the biggest film in the UK on its opening weekend. That meant beating Inside Out, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and The Man from Uncle. By comparison, we outstripped performance in the US, where it ended its opening weekend in 6th place. The movie went on to smash its £5m UK box office target.

Key Points

Helen Davis, Senior Marketing Director, 20th Century Fox

Made In Chelsea is a pivotal part of the weekly viewing habits for the film’s target audience. So, the fact that we were able to match Paper Towns into the plot of the show was truly remarkable.