Creating Happiness
with BBC Earth

Nature makes you happy

Even before we got started, we knew that our partnership with BBC Earth would be an amazing opportunity. Sunshine's dream was to take BBC Earth from a little known brand that makes amazing TV programmes to a brand famous for bringing you close to nature everyday.

The BBC had a hunch that their natural history documentaries made people feel happier and more content; as avid viewers of their content we thought that they might be right.

But what is happiness and how do we define it? We knew that if we could prove the tangible links between positive feeling and watching nature programmes, we’d have a compelling heart to our idea. So we brokered a relationship between BBC Earth and academic happiness researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who set out to investigate how watching animals’ lives makes us feel.

Through our collaborative research, we set out to reveal the true, lasting benefits of watching nature documentaries, such as Planet Earth. It's now fact: not only are these programmes fascinating, they are now scientifically proven to make you happier.

“The shifts in emotion demonstrated in the BBC study as a result of watching this powerful natural history series are significant as we know that wonder and contentment are the foundations of human happiness.”

Professor Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley

Building a platform for
happy moments

Inspired by our collaborative happiness research, the Real Happiness Project is a long-term entertainment property: a year-long series of content, events and technological innovations to inspire us all to get closer to the natural world.

At Sunshine we believe that nothing is more powerful than positive thinking, and through BBC Earth and the Real Happiness Project we were able to offer more happiness to the world. The property transcends the limits of the natural history category, proving that watching natural history content has a meaningful and transformative role in our general wellbeing, and helps us to be who are.

“What excites me about this study is seeing how Planet Earth II connects with people on a deep emotional level – as a film-maker that is very rewarding. We’re always striving to bring our audiences closer to nature and it’s thrilling to see how this can generate such positive emotions and have a powerful impact on our viewer’s mood and wellbeing”

Mike Gunton, Executive Producer of Planet Earth II

What does happiness look like?

The BBC wanted to capitalise on the launch of Planet Earth II to transform BBC Earth into the definitive natural history brand; The Real Happiness Project was the ideal launch platform for this new position.

As well as the creative concept for the Real Happiness Project, Sunshine created the logo and brand identity, a creative playbook and multi-channel creative concepts. This created clear, flexible guidelines and stimulus for the BBC's multiple natural history teams and partners.

"We conceived The Real Happiness Project in partnership with BBC Earth as a long term entertainment and cultural property, inspired by both Planet Earth II and the findings of this research. Anything that brings a little more happiness to us all would seem to be a very good thing indeed."

Mel Exon, Sunshine CEO

Moments that make you jump for joy

The Real Happiness Project introduced a unifying thread for BBC Earth innovation and conversation and a legitimate reason for BBC Earth to participate in our audience's daily lives. A clarified focus for integrated communications unlocked more authentic interactions with our audience's daily lives, driving up earned media through culturally relevant talking points.

A decade on from the unprecedented success of Planet Earth, Planet Earth II launched in the UK in November 2016, surpassing expectations by drawing the second largest live TV audience in Britain during 2016 and becoming the most successful nature documentary for 15 years.

The Real Happiness Project helped elevate BBC Earth as the definitive global natural history platform for Planet Earth II – and with new properties in the pipeline, watch this space for what comes next.

Read the full Real Happiness Project study, conducted by Professor Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley here.