Hijacking of 6 Lebanese Radio Stations Turns Out To Be a Clever Radio Stunt for Local GSM Operator

Published February 21st, 2010 - 09:13 GMT

When 6 radio stations were “hijacked” last week by eager listeners urgently trying to get a message out to their close friends, it brought along a refreshing new approach to communication that, not only got the message across, but is certain to have an impact on how clever radio campaigns are starting to get approached in Lebanon.

The stunt was simple. DJs at the leading radio stations in Lebanon were interrupted, mid-show and live on the air, by random people who needed to get across a specific message to someone, but were out of credit. The funny interruptions were later revealed to be a stunt to re-launch the new “Ehkineh” service from Alfa which allows prepaid users to send up to 40 free “Ehkineh from Alfa: Please call me Back” SMS messages after they run out of credit.

It appeared that Leo Burnett Beirut were the master minds behind this stunt:

 “On a daily basis, people in Lebanon find creative solutions to get through to the person they are trying to reach when they are out of credit. We took this insight to the next level, and came out with this innovative idea,” says Bechara Mouzannar, Executive Regional Creative Director at H&C Leo Burnett. “Although the budget was tight, we wanted to stretch out the exposure of Alfa’s “Ehkineh” service as far as possible by creating hype and engaging the people in an unconventional way through traditional medium like radio.

The stunt immediately got people to talk and became a hit on the net through bloggers on Twitter, Facebook and other social medias, as word of mouth spread the message to a much bigger audience. Plus961.com, one of Lebanon’s most popular blogs picked up on the story early on in the morning, and the twiterrati kept the idea alive throughout the day; sparking laughter and discussions. It also got its share in major local newspapers in Lebanon. The initial response was overwhelmingly positive, and impromptu interruptions have been reported in various places.

“We are very pleased with the way this stunt has worked out,” explains Mrs. Aline Karam Senior Head of Communications & spokesperson at Alfa, the mobile operator managed by Orascom Telecom since the 1st of February 2009.  “From the onset, we really believed that this type of guerilla stunt would be an exciting and refreshing way to communicate a new service, and now our communication strategy can reflect our innovative services.”

While Alfa and Leo Burnett have both benefitted from the success of this campaign, it is communication as a whole that has come out on top here. With the bar now much higher, straightforward advertising will no longer suffice for brands and agencies that want to stand out.

“The idea was very simple, but not straight forward,” explains Nada Abi Saleh, Deputy Managing Director of H&C Leo Burnett. “We’ve tapped into a certain human behavior, and we added a touch of humor to it, and by doing so, we’ve reached the hearts of customers, and influenced their behaviors. This is the new way to communicate, and is the spirit of our agency.”

The future of communication has finally made it to Lebanon, in the most interruptive of ways.


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