Magazine article Marketing

Will Coronation Street Last Another 40 Years?

Magazine article Marketing

Will Coronation Street Last Another 40 Years?

Article excerpt

Corrie is a mainstay of advertisers' schedules and a sure winner with viewers. But is it trying too hard to imitate the dramas and misery of its rival soap operas?

When Coronation Street's Deirdre Rachid was sent to prison for fraud, Tony Blair and William Hague called for her early release and The Sun, The Star and The Express launched campaigns to free the Weatherfield One.

This is the most recent indication of the UK's obsession with Corrie and its status as a national institution, ranking alongside The Beatles and the Queen Mum.

Corrie first went on air on December 9 1960, but like many hit series, including Who Wants to be a Millionaire, it nearly didn't make it -- the BBC turned it down twice.

Forty years on, it is ITV's big gun in its battle with BBC1, regularly clocking up a 59% share with 14 million viewers.

The nation has loyally tuned in to follow such storylines as Sarah-Lou Platt's teenage pregnancy; the romance between transsexual Hayley Patterson and the unassuming Roy Cropper; and the love triangle with factory girl Linda Sykes, fiance Mike Baldwin and Baldwin's son,Mark.

As every marketer knows, getting the brand name right is a key factor in commercial success. Had Corrie launched under its working title of Florizel Street, one wonders whether its success would have been the same. Legend has it that Agnes, the tea lady on the original set, suggested Florizel sounded more like a brand of disinfectant.

So strong is the Corrie brand that few advertisers feel completely happy leaving it off the schedules altogether.

But is Corrie strong enough to last the next 40 years? Marketing asked Philip Buck-man, marketing services director of Nestle UK -- not an avid fan himself, but he says Coronation Street is on the schedule for almost all Nestle brands -- and Nick Theakstone, broadcast director of Media Vest UK,for their opinions and prescriptions for its continuing success.

DIAGNOSIS

Coronation Street has always relied on those old soap favourites 'love and death' to drive its storylines, but the key to its success has been to hang those storylines on strong characters.

Latterly, however, Corrie has tried to play a game of catch-up with the other soaps in terms of drama and misery. In the past 12 months, we have had Leanne's cocaine addiction, Jez Quigley's murder, Sarah-Louise's under-age pregnancy and Kevin Webster losing his wife and son within a week. …

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