Inside the Campaign: The ‘Art of Regeneration’ by Back Market and BBC’s Doctor Who

May 28, 2024
5 mins

In December 2023, Words + Pixels worked with Back Market, the global online marketplace for refurbished tech, to bring to life a creative campaign with the ultimate regenerating hero: Doctor Who. With the aim to increase brand awareness and educate Brits on e-waste, we worked with the BBC’s Doctor Who and Global Street Art to create & build a 180-degree interactive sculpture made out of refurbished tech that showcased the current Doctor, David Tennant, seamlessly regenerating into Ncuti Gatwa.

As one of BBC Doctor Who’s first brand partnerships ahead of the Doctor’s triumphant return and Ncuti’s first appearance in the franchise, the timing of this partnership also celebrated the brand’s 60th anniversary.


Doctor Who follows the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord who is able to regenerate, and the Doctor’s human friend(s). The Doctor and their companion’s journey through time and space in the TARDIS – a time-travelling ship shaped like a police box – saving the universe with a combination of wit, bravery and kindness. 

When you think about it, Back Market and Doctor Who are actually the perfect match:

  1. Obsessed with the latest technology: from sonic screwdrivers to smartphones, Doctor Who and Back Market are your go-to for some of the best tech
  2. Celebrating regeneration: One is regenerating a Time Lord and the other one is breathing new life back into technology - regeneration is regeneration!
  3. Progressive: Back Market and Doctor Who are looking to the preserve the future and find new ways to challenge the status quo
  4. Saving the world: This one is pretty self explanatory 😏

Both Back Market and the BBC’s Doctor Who were especially interested in engaging Gen Z viewers and consumers - with the appointment of Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa as the next Doctor and Back Market’s call on Gen Z to be more sustainable in their tech habits, it was a no brainer that the brands were poised to team up.


The ‘Art of Regeneration’, made from hundreds of pieces of discarded devices, was a physical embodiment not only of the Doctor’s regeneration in the series, but also showing how new life can be given to old tech.

The ‘regeneration’ message and brand connection was perfectly executive through the sculpture’s design and media materials, with guests at the activation getting up close and personal with the sculpture to see all of the pieces that went into making it. By hiding Doctor Who ‘Easter Eggs’ throughout the sculpture, the connection between the refurbished tech and Doctor Who became extremely clear with Whovians and curious onlookers all taking part.

Throughout the activation, we gave away 600 pouches that contained information about the collaboration and were also able to be repurposed to send old discarded tech to Back Market to be refurbished and make a profit.


The activation went live the weekend of the 8th - 11th of December, dangerously close to Christmas, because it coincided with the release dates of the Doctor Who Christmas specials that officially announced Ncuti Gatwa as the new Doctor.

In order to cut through the Christmas noise and share the story, we needed to capture strong imagery of the sculpture on the South Bank, with a range of people engaging with it. Throughout the entire activation, we also captured B-roll footage and interviews with both Back Market and BBC spokespeople who highlighted the mission to raise awareness of E-waste in the UK.

We also chose to work with three key influencers to capture content and drive awareness of the activation and Back Market with a Gen Z/Millennial audience, hitting niches that included comedy/lifestyle, things-to-do in London, and the Doctor Who and pop culture fanbase.


The sculpture itself was handcrafted by Global Street Art using unused regenerated tech as an artistic representation of the estimated 100 tonnes of e-waste thrown into landfills every hour.  It went up the morning of the 8th of December and immediately caught the eyes of passers-by heading to work, and hosted a series of activations throughout the weekend including inviting dozens of Whovians to come in cosplay to visit the sculpture, and unveiled Ncuti Gatwa’s Sonic Screwdriver. 

These activations added an element of engagement to the sculpture, inviting genuine lovers of the show to learn more about incorporating regeneration into their daily lives, and introduced new and old fans of Doctor Who to Back Market.

By equipping the sculpture with brand ambassadors during the weekend, we were able to engage directly with 800+ consumers and share Back Market’s messaging and incentives to use the trade-in service or to purchase a refurbished device. 


We achieved 100 pieces of coverage in total, with a total reach of 8.4 billion (8x the initial KPI) in national and consumer publications like the BBC, The Independent and Yahoo!. Compared to other concurrent brand partnerships with BBC’s Doctor Who, we earned the most coverage and reach, owning 63% of the share of voice.

The influencers we worked with, including Sam Williams, Lily Rose, and The Movie Dweeb (Daniel Merrifield) reached a combined 2.4 million followers across 12 pieces of content. Back Market also added a paid element to feed content on Instagram and TikTok, reaching a wider audience. 

An added bonus was reaching Ncuti Gatwa organically, and having him share the sculpture on his Instagram story, reaching his 2.8 million followers!