What does ITV’s advertising slogan ‘More than TV’ actually mean?

For a couple of years, ITV has been using the slogan “More than TV”. I see it on billboards advertising programmes and on a title card before programmes on the ITV Hub (ITV’s TV-on-demand service). But what does the phrase actually mean?

A couple of friends tell me that it means the quality of the programmes is supposed to be better than mere ordinary television, and indeed ITV’s material can be pretty impressive – just think of Victoria or Downton Abbey. Personally, I interpreted the slogan as meaning that ITV might have launched some non-TV services that I couldn’t think of. And the Financial Times’s coverage from 2018 suggested that this was indeed what ITV was thinking:

ITV’s new chief executive Carolyn McCall said the broadcaster behind Love Island and The X Factor would do “more than TV” as it seeks to head off competition and strengthen its business amid an enduring downturn in advertising revenues …

The strategy includes plans to invest in ITV’s on-demand streaming service ITV Hub and its “direct-to-consumer” business, which includes competitions and live events.

In fact, the real meaning currently appears to be not about quality or the types of services the company offers, but of its ability to change the country. As ITV’s advertising sales website says: “We’re more than TV; we have the power to shape culture and drive action.”

In a powerful video on YouTube, ITV makes this meaning very clear. It aligns the ITV brand with social progress over the decades in areas such as gay rights and respect for women. It explains: “we are changed by what we see. Just as we are changed when we are seen.”

There is something agreeably high-minded about that advert. But when an advertising slogan requires people to Google it to work out it means, it has surely failed.

Advertisers all too often choose slogans that are vacuous, lacking clout in positioning or promise. Yet one of the best advertising slogans in the world of television was also from ITV, at a point when Sky, 30 years ago, was starting to make inroads with subscription satellite television. In this advert (below), there is no doubt as to ITV’s positioning or promise.