Robert Sawatzky
Oct 4, 2017 launches section ‘Designed’ to lure luxury advertisers

But no Asian advertisers yet signed on for launch.

BBC's 'Designed'
BBC's 'Designed'

The BBC has expanded online with a new design-focused content section appealing to luxury brands, including those here in Asia. The launch of BBC Designed adds to the existing four main feature sections: BBC Culture, BBC Future, BBC Capital, and BBC Travel, all of which cater to the BBC’s educated, upwardly-mobile and globally-minded audience.

Broken down into four alliterative subsections: dress (fashion), dwell (architecture), drive (transportation), and device (technology), the section will be staffed by a new small team of editors based mainly in London who will commission articles worldwide.  

“Because our audience is aspirational, high net worth and more global in nature we’re seeing definite audience signals around high-end culture, high-end design, transport and technology, time and time again” Simon Frantz, managing editor, Features at North America told Campaign from the BBC World office in Singapore. “At the same time, we’re getting commercial telling us that clients are looking more to the luxury market, certainly in Asia-Pacific.”

While Frantz is clear that the new offering is audience-driven, he was hoping to pique commercial interest while on a recent swing through Asia with BBC digital director Mark Jones.  Brand partners in Asia have not been brought on board yet unlike the US, where luxury auto brand Genesis is Designed’s launch sponsor.  Existing Asian advertisers on this year include Petronas, UOB, ANZ, Standard Chartered, Huawei and tourism and governmental bodies.


Jones was quick to point out there is a lot for ad-friendly features of Designed, including an 88 percent viewability target, dedicated left-hand side ad units for greater stickiness and a home page with responsive code that allows content to scale around it and “nestle” the ads.

“We’re trying to put [ad formats] front and center in a way that’s kind of elegant, that adheres to LEAN principles (lightweight, encrypted, AdChoices-enabled and non-invasive) but is not intrusive to the user as well,” he said. “This is our first draft at that piece of work.”

Aside from new sponsored content opportunities with Designed, the BBC is quick to point to audience reach and brand safety as it key selling features for advertisers. claims it had 21 million unique browsers in Asia-Pacific in May 2017, with 60 million mobile page views.

But the BBC has also been active in promoting undeniably self-serving research on how fake news is perceived in the region. A March 2017 survey offered that 62 percent of APAC news consumers say advertising on untrusted media has a detrimental effect on their perception of a brand.

Its main message to brands has been clear—stick with trusted media platforms and stay out of trouble. To emphasise the point, Alistair McEwan, SVP Commercial Development at BBC Advertising, for Asia and ANZ told clients in a press release that Designed provides a yet another avenue to “showcase their brands in a safe and trusted environment.” 

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