Tracey Stern

Why Sky Has Got It Right…

10 March 2011, Tracey Stern

All too often, we feel compelled to share our thoughts about negative brand experiences. With spring just around the corner and the sunshine finally making an appearance, I have decided it’s time to briefly reverse this trend.

The brand in question is Sky. I have been a Sky customer for quite a few years now, and I can honestly say I am a loyal advocate and would have very strong reservations about moving my business to any other broadcast provider.

I am old enough to remember the BSB and Sky fiasco, in the early days. Back then, it didn’t really matter much, from a personal or professional media perspective, because the four main commercial channels were so incredibly dominant.
As is widely reported, the broadcasting landscape has changed beyond recognition. From the early 1990’s through to 2011, the ‘anytime, anywhere’ culture has developed to a point where Content is most definitely King.

When I moved house about five years ago, one of the key requisites, aside from the usual subsidence and location issues, was the ability to be able to receive Sky. Having lived with Freeview and ITV Digital in its former years, I was adamant I could at last get everything I needed. I was at a loss when Prison Break switched from commercial TV to Sky, and I was determined that I would be able to see ‘Lost’ through to the end; though, actually, I still don’t have a clue what went on, even now.

There are three aspects I particularly love about the Sky brand:


This probably isn’t the best day to evangelise about the Sky programming, as the 90 minutes on Sky Sports 2 recently was not the best entertainment for an avid Arsenal fan. However, Sport aside, I believe the Sky strategy to be brilliant. Unlike other broadcasters, Sky realised their key strength came not necessarily in programme origination, but in programme acquisition. They became a very powerful transmission platform – delivering content that customers genuinely wanted.

Having big budgets obviously helped, but the acquisition team have continued to make their entertainment channels destination viewing. And in the world of multi-channel homes, this is no mean feat. Sky Atlantic is a touch of genius. Genuinely brilliant programming, often timed to coincide with the big US launches so UK consumers don’t feel as though they need to download illegally in order to keep up and avoid ‘spoiler’ tactics.

Their promotional trailers and ads have always been true to the brand. Big budget, entertaining and powerful. A perfect illustration of the Sky brand in an ad format.

Customer care

Early on in my Sky relationship, my Sky box died. Thankfully I was up to date with the latest Mad Men and Damages episodes, but the thought of being without my Sky Plus for more than a few days was not a prospect I was willing to endure. After calling the 24 hour helpline, a very nice man came out, at the allotted time, and delivered a new box free of charge. Despite my warranty expiring two months previously. My bill is available online at any time, without the need for complex security processes, and I can speak to a real human being if the need arises.

Products you actually want

Over the years, I have personally sat in a number of focus groups, that all started with the same question: “How do we market this product to our audience?”. Sky have clearly sat down with focus groups, and started by asking ‘which products would our audience like, that would enhance their experience of, and relationship with, us as a brand’. And it shows.

Sky Never Miss is a perfect example of how something very simple, can be very effective. You sign up to the website and just highlight the programmes you don’t want to miss, regardless of where they are in the transmission cycle. You will then be sent an email to your specified email address, informing you when the programme will next be on, at least 5 working days in advance of the programme airing. The email arrives with no sales speak, and no promotional offers – just what I’d expect from a triggered email.

Sky recently re-launched their advertising under the banner of ‘Believe in Better’. In my humble opinion, this mantra is coming through from strategy to the consumer, and for many brands today, this is a rarity.


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