Step-by-Step Graphics

Article demonstrates how a design approach can drive compassion for a particularly cold fish


Improving on Success

Discovery Channel’s in-house agency uses humor to make a long-running campaign splashier than ever.

Shark Week—a collection of documentaries about the world’s most feared fins—is a nine-year success story that consistently reels in double the average prime-time audience for its network, Discovery Channel. With Shark Week’s broad appeal and stunning photography, creating promotional materials might sound like an easy assignment. In reality, it gets more difficult each year for the Discovery Design Group, the network’s in-house agency, to better the previous campaign. The DDG designers face a complex challenge: How can they refresh the appeal of a long-running campaign and assure viewers they won’t be watching the same old thing?

That isn’t the only challenge. Shark Week is broadcast in the summer, when television viewership routinely decreases as audiences migrate outdoors. And Shark Week this year follows the Olympics; many viewers had switched to NBC to watch the summer Games, and DDG needed to attract them back to the Discovery Channel before they explored other options.

To make the task even more difficult, DDG needed to avoid disturbing imagery in the promotion. Discovery Channel is careful to safeguard its reputation as a network that presents quality, intelligent programming for all ages—a tranquil addition to any cable system.