The GCS Fillers Marketing team work with government departments to commission and develop cost effective public service announcement TV and radio, and partner with media owners to negotiate donated airtime.
“Fillers” are low cost government TV and radio public service announcements, containing public welfare, health and safety messages, which are aired entirely at the goodwill of media owners who have donated free airtime.
The GCS Fillers Marketing team acts as a central “broker”, working firstly as consultants to develop TV and radio content with departments, and secondly building relationships with TV, radio and digital media owners to secure free airtime. Examples of current work include smokefree & sugar obesity (Public Health England), drink-drive, countryside road safety and don’t use your phone while driving (Department for Transport).
The Fillers Marketing team partner with a wide range of media owners to generate as much exposure for public information messages as possible. Messages are broadcast across commercial TV and radio stations; on smaller regional community TV and radio, and out of home digital screens hosted by local authorities, post offices and doctor surgeries.
We are able to reach larger TV audiences on BBC One & Two, and tap into other audiences media buyers cannot reach – such as community/”not for profit” radio : in 2016 more than 300 community radio stations ran a Filler.
Filler TV & Radio content is usually implemented as part of wider marketing campaigns, their goal to build public awareness at low cost and support behaviour change over the long term. Once in the public domain, Fillers content does typically remain at the broadcaster for a long time.
Fillers are generally not suitable for very short-term bursts, nor can they promote a brand or promote a government organisation (that approach is defined as “advertising” by OFCOM which is not permitted to qualify as a Filler).
Historically “Fillers” is a term coined by commercial TV and radio broadcasters. These broadcasters have daily schedules that shift and change, and many have a need for meaningful and engaging TV and radio content to “fill” any empty programming space, sometimes at short notice.
Government Fillers today are competing with other sources of TV and radio content at the broadcasters disposal, such as a channels’ own internal promotional trailers, as well as charity fillers. Government Fillers need to have good quality production values and themes to compete effectively in this space.
While Fillers cannot be targeted at specific audiences in the same way paid advertising can, they offer government departments another route to raising awareness of welfare, safety or public health messages.
“Fillers are a great way to get messages out to the public at low / no cost and the Fillers team are always on hand with advice and guidance when we are considering new Fillers to run. We are pleased with the airtime we have earned and shall continue to refresh our suite of Fillers as part of our focus on building awareness of our Health initiatives.”
Alan Smith, Senior Marketing Manager, Public Health England
“Radio fillers have enabled us to complement our short term campaigns with long term strategic safety messaging. Indeed, public awareness of our radio fillers has been surprisingly high compared to paid-for campaigns. At one focus group in 2016, five out of seven people were aware of radio adverts encouraging drivers to respond safely to Red X signs on motorways. Out of this five, two people were actually referring to our Red X radio filler that had been broadcast since 2014. It demonstrates real value for money and a worthwhile complementary activity to high profile time-limited campaigns.”
Laurence Braithwaite, Campaigns Manager, Highways England