Channel 4 excites Twitter with Persona Synthetics ads

With a series of intriguing TV and print ads, a listing on eBay and a shopfront on London’s Regent’s Street, Channel 4 caused a stir over the weekend with the launch of the mysterious brand Persona Synthetics, which appears to offer the chance for people to purchase a synthetic human to help out round the house. But, before you reach for your credit card, it turns out it’s all a clever promo campaign for new TV drama series Humans…

The TV spot (by 4Creative), shown below, appeared on the channel last week. It shows a family enjoying the benefits of Sally, a new generation synthetic model, “closer to humans than ever before”. The ad makes no explicit mention of the TV show, but instead links to a website,, where an expanded trailer for the series is hosted. The show, which stars William Hurt, Colin Morgan and Gemma Chan, is set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget is a ‘Synth’.



The fun was then extended with print ads, like the one shown top, placed in newspapers, and also a listing on eBay, below, where visitors could bid for a Synth.



And there’s more – on London’s Regent’s Street there is currently a shop front hosting a pair of two-metre tall Synth models. Using Microsoft Kinect tech, the duo interact with passers-by, mimicking them and reacting to their movements. The shopfront will be in place for the rest of this week.



The campaign is beautifully crafted throughout, and with every element carrying the Persona Synthetics web address and the hashtag #Humans, it has got a lot of people quite excited on Twitter. Tweeters were found questioning what Persona Synthetics is and whether synthetic humans are real, as well as expressing admiration for Channel 4 when the ruse was revealed. Here’s just a smattering of the responses:



This is not the first time that brands have created clever multi-channel campaigns to launch TV shows or films. HBO’s True Blood was renowned for creating an elaborate campaign which aimed to create the illusion that the fictional world of the show was real, while the movie Prometheus was first trailed using a film of a fake Ted talk and later a corporate video promoting the robot David from the film, shown below:



The Humans ad also brought to mind some of the brilliant fake adverts that appeared in the Robocop series, as collated in the YouTube clip below:



Despite these comparisons, the Channel 4’s Humans work is top notch and has done an excellent job at driving intrigue around the new show, leading to wide coverage in the mainstream press as well as across social media. Nice work.