ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 29
Financial Times  

Ogilvy Action authors landmark campaign in the Maldives

By Sandya Salgado
Director/CEO, Ogilvy Action

“Dear Ogilvy Team – on the way to the launch ceremony now and everything looks great. The posters especially look incredible. So large! Thanks for all your hard work, over the past few days. Cheers, Sherine.”

That was the moment of truth the Ogilvy Action Team in Sri Lanka was waiting for. Almost two years ago, Ogilvy was requested by the UNICEF team in the Maldives to conceptualize a proactive campaign, in order to create mass awareness on the issue of drug abuse in the Republic of the Maldives. ‘Kill Brown’ was born as a result of this request.

While both teams were excited about this initial concept, we soon realized that the sensitivities on the issue required a much more lifestyle oriented, in-your-face approach, if the campaign was to make an impact in the Maldives.

As the first step to the strategy, Ogilvy captured and produced a compelling documentary, post the ‘Revival Concert’, which gave a platform for the recovering addicts to express themselves on an open forum. This experience gave the Ogilvy team the opportunity to interact and be involved with both addicts and recovering addicts in order to understand the deep emotions they were grappling with in the face of the scourge the Maldivian society was trying to rid itself from.

UNICEF, in keeping with the UN regulations opened the campaign bid to interested local and international advertising agencies in order to pick the right campaign partner to plan, strategise, produce and implement this very important Social Marketing campaign, which was incidentally the first of its kind.

Ken Maskall, UNICEF Representative in the Maldives, gave leadership to the project while his able communications team passionately supported the cause. Key partners for the campaign were many, who played an equally active part, in order to make sure that no stone was left unturned. The National Narcotics Control Bureau (NNCB) and Journey – a self help group of recovering addicts were the most involved in the development of the campaign. Other partners included were Dhiraagu – the premier telecom provider to the Maldives (incidentally another client of Ogilvy Action) and TV Maldives (TVM).

After winning the bid, Ogilvy spent a couple of days in the Maldives moderating a workshop of many different input groups such as recovering addicts, Journey members, students, affected

family members, NNCB representatives, the Police force, TV Maldives, government officials, representatives from Dhiraagu and of course the team from UNICEF amongst others. This was one of the most memorable workshops the Ogilvy Team has ever been a part of. Emotions were high as the group listened to candid and truthful moments shared by recovering addicts and affected family members.

The passion and the energy that flowed in the room was electric. It is no wonder then, that at the end of a four-day strenuous workshop, the strong and emotive call to action campaign line was born. The beauty of this concept was that it was suggested by the participants themselves, after they went through the rigorous idea generating process initiated by the Ogilvy team.

Thinking, discussing and conceptualizing extended late into the nights. The Ogilvy Team spent many a night and evenings mingling and hanging out with diversely effected groups in order to understand the psyche of the victims just to make sure the authored campaign was going to create the best impact for the Maldives.

The ‘Wake Up’ campaign had to touch and speak to many different audiences in many differing tones. That was the most difficult task as most campaigns would generally have one core target group to be addressed. The different audiences spanned from addicts to recovering addicts to vulnerable kids, to youth to affected families.

The initial concepts were tested for acceptance and validity amongst the target groups prior to finalizing the campaign.

The campaign had many legs too. TV, print, radio, testimonials, brochures, posters, stickers, coasters, bill boards and most importantly, a website that was inaugurated by none other than the President of the Maldives himself. Each of these collaterals had to be created for each of the differing audiences. This was a task by itself. Of course all material was created in Dhivehi!

The TV commercials numbering six and documentaries numbering eight were all shot on location in the Maldives, covering Male and other neighbouring islands with maximum support and corporation by UNICEF and the Journey partners.

A comprehensive situation analysis in the form of a publication completed the campaign materials for this extremely crucial project. The input and involvement from the UNICEF communication team was immeasurable.

The effect of all the hard work, commitment and anxiety of developing a campaign of this nature can be measured only after the campaign truly runs its course in the planned manner. We can’t wait to see the impact!


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