The Marketing of Doctor Who Is About to Enter a Whole New Dimension


Doctor Who, the longest-running action-adventure television series in the world, turned 60 in November. And, true to form after all of those years traveling in space and time, it’s only just beginning. The quintessentially British show, produced by BBC Studios, has begun a partnership with Disney that is already taking the show’s brand and commercial potential into a whole new dimension.

In its archive of content, now known as “The Whoniverse,” the series has more than 800 episodes. Before the global distribution deal signed with Disney Branded Television in 2022, it was available in 13 regions worldwide through 56 partners spanning 54 languages.

As a result of its history and reach, the program already has countless marketing elements, including a long-running dedicated magazine, thousands of tie-in novels, DVDs, action figures and cosplay merchandise. And now things are set to ramp up even further.

The marketing setup

The marketing team within BBC Studios’ Scripted content department, which handles the various shows and intellectual properties held by the corporation, is 12 people in total. Doctor Who has a dedicated team within that department that covers both editorial and asset management, led by the show’s brand director, Vanessa Hamilton. She has been with the show for almost six years, stepping into the leadership role in April 2022 as discussions around its 60th anniversary and the new direction for the series were beginning.

That team includes editorial brand manager James Page and Jonathan Davies, the brand asset manager who is responsible for the warehouse of archives, props, costumes and set pieces, working closely with the new production team at Bad Wolf Studios.

The marketing and brands team for scripted content is run by vice president Chris Aylott, while Sarah Bold, head of brand and marketing, Scripted leads the team on brand partnerships and other promotional activities around the series. And their core aim is to drive engagement and awareness of the shows.

Hamilton said that while visiting a fan-run panel at San Diego ComicCon last year, they learned just how excited other fans were about the potential growth of the audience and the community around the series.

“What we’re going to be tapping into is that fans make new fans … and leveraging that as a strategy,” Hamilton added.

And with three special episodes featuring the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate for the show’s 60th anniversary before the move to the latest actor to play The Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, for the Christmas special airing on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ Dec. 25, recent weeks have been a busy period of promotional activity. The first special, “The Star Beast,” was seen by 9 million viewers to date through BBC channels alone.

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