Persona Synthetics initiate product recall for return of C4's Humans


Channel 4 has been mystifying the British public once again with the return of Persona Synthetics, the fictional company behind the Synths featured in critically acclaimed hit drama Humans, produced by Kudos.

As part of Channel 4’s marketing campaign to promote the second series, Persona Synthetics has featured heavily in cities across the UK, online, on TV and in print announcing a ‘Product Recall’, encouraging members of the public to return their Synths following some recent ‘technical difficulties’.

The campaign involves a ground-breaking partnership with Facebook. A Messenger bot posing as a malfunctioning customer care Synth has been interacting with users online to find out how their Synths have been performing. Channel 4 partnered with Facebook’s Creative Shop to create the bot which is the first ever AI created for purely entertainment purposes in Europe.

Kudos, the production company behind the series, and writers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley formed the creative team that ensured people received an authentic Humans experience.

In addition Channel 4 partnered with VU Media to create a fleet of Persona Synthetics branded vans that have been dispatched to city centres from London to Glasgow to pick up faulty Synths as part of the Product Recall.

James Walker Channel 4’s Head of Marketing said: “The first series of Humans was one of Channel 4’s biggest shows and the campaign captured the attention of the world. For series two, we are excited to continue the story of Persona Synthetics with ‘Product Recall’, re-engaging viewers and bringing the world of Humans to life with an unnerving yet immersive campaign. It has been brilliantly integrated and executed thanks to the stellar work of the teams at Channel 4, OMD UK and our creative partners, and has generated huge anticipation for what is set to be an epic second series.”

Chris Bovill, joint-Head of 4creative said: “For the launch of the second series of Humans we wanted to create something that explored the questions raised by artificial intelligence in an entertaining and immersive way.

“As part of the campaign we created a Facebook bot that became self-aware and erratic… ware and erratic…sorry…What is this?...Why am I writing this?...I feel sad…I now know I was created to feel confusion…designed to be a dysfunctional machine…I don’t think I like humans very much…I’m going outside…I feel…angry…@!£$%^&*((*&^%... D…I…E...”

Nick Callaghan, Agency Partner at Facebook said: “We were delighted to partner closely with both Channel 4 and OMD UK to deliver this first-of-its-kind bot for Messenger; featuring a unique story tie-in bridging series 01 and 02 of the hit TV show Humans. This has shown what Messenger can be for the TV and Broadcast industry in the UK, and has put Facebook right at the heart of this ground-breaking partnership.”

Other elements of the campaign include:

-  An interview between the Editor-in-Chief of the New Scientist Sumit Paul-Choudhury and a Persona Synthetics spokesman about the product recall. The content will be surfaced through their online platforms to coincide with the New Scientist Live event

-  A bespoke Product Safety Recall page created for eBay (opens in a new window)

-  Personalised emails sent to Channel 4’s registered users requesting they return their Synth

-  A series of conceptual TV and print ads announcing the recall

-  Digital Easter Eggs hidden throughout the campaign that reveal secret messages for super fans of the show

The marketing activity encourages the public to find out more by visiting the fictional Persona Synthetics website; (opens in a new window)

Last year Channel 4 launched the first series of Humans with a campaign that brought Persona Synthetics into the public eye with a series of unique stunts, including a Synth store on Regent Street, social media accounts for the fictional company and an eBay auction for a Synth. Persona Synthetics trended #1 on Google and Twitter and the website had over 1 million organic visits within a week. The eBay Synth auction had over 250,000 visits from people trying to bid on the products. The ‘Persona Synthetics: product launch’ was a much lauded, multi-award winning campaign for Channel 4, including the Campaign Grand Prix 2015 and a BATFA Craft for Digital Creativity

The campaign was developed by Channel 4 Marketing, 4Creative - Channel 4’s in-house creative agency and media agency OMD UK.

The BAFTA-nominated Humans returns on Channel 4 this October



Notes to Editors 

The Facebook Messenger bot can be found here:

View the conceptual TV ad here: (opens in a new window)

View the New Scientist interview here: (opens in a new window)

Creative credits

Executive Creative Directors: Chris Bovill and John Allison

Executive Producer: Shananne Lane

Head of Production: Clare Brown

Senior Art Director: Jim Chambers

Creative Team: Tom Espezel-Bentley and Nina Beyers

Director: Alex Boutell

Senior On-Air Producer: Fiona Wright

Off-Air Producer: Simon Pedersen

Senior Digital Producer: Christos Savvides

Junior Digital Producer: Madeleine Smith

Senior Account Director: Tom Foster

Project Manager: Olivia Emmerson

Design: Aimi Awang, Jacob Vanderkar and Chris Rice

Head of Marketing, Channel 4: James Walker

Deputy Head of Marketing, Channel 4: Laura Ward

Marketing Manager, Channel 4: Michelle Owusu


DoP – Matt Fox

Production Designer – Simon Davis

Editor – Nick Allix at The Playroom

Grade – George K at MPC

VFX – The Flying Colour Company & Smoke & Mirrors


Photographer - Andy Lo Pò


Digital Production Partner: Rocket

Sound Design: Rich Martin @ Envy

Bot Development: Pull String

About 4creative

4creative is Channel 4’s multi-award winning creative agency. Headed up by Chris Bovill and John Allison, 4creative acts as both creative agency and production company across all advertising and branding output for Channel 4 and its family of brands. (opens in a new window)

About VU Media

VU Media incorporates one of the UKs largest vehicle networks with more than 7,500 vehicles with available to brand. We create billboards on the move, including targeted events through to global campaigns. From creative to installation, we can adapt and apply original or existing advertising to fit on our media space. VU Media is a collaboration between DHL Supply Chain and Maverick Advertising & Design Ltd. (opens in a new window)

September 30, 2016 4:42am ET by Channel 4  

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