How to not reach Christmas number one- but still raise awareness amongst millions
Have you ever heard of the Everly Pregnant Brothers? Well here in South Yorkshire, they’re quite a big deal. Full of satire and joviality, the eclectic ukulele group take some of the biggest hits and give them a somewhat, creative twist.
So you can imagine our delight when we got wind of one of their more successful numbers, Chip Pan, singing the perils of cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. And in the words of Aerosmith, it started with a little tweet, like this...
The band set the date, we set the filming location and we rendezvoused on a cold November morning in Central fire station. The beauty of this was that it took away the bureaucracy of deliberating over which watch would be best to feature in the video – we had to go with the watch on duty. What a fantastic day for all involved, not least the watch manager there to ‘facilitate’, who later became the lead role in the video. Six hours later, the band vacated with a ton of footage and, quite honestly, there was a bit of a buzz about the place.
Once the video was ready, we published it on social media and I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for the response. Within 24 hours it received a quarter of a million views and within three days we’d reached half a million. With the smell of festive cheer in the air, there was only one thing for it – tackling Christmas number one.
So calling in favours from the past, present and future we got to work with local media contacts taking a bit of a tongue in cheek approach. Things escalated quickly, and before we knew it we had not only national, but, global coverage. Staff from across the organisation really got behind the bid and there was a real sense of unity, something which became the most valuable outcome of the campaign.
It was not without its lows though, when the views started to dwindle, and a popular bookmakers doubled our odds. If there’s one thing we learnt it’s the importance of weathering the emotional storm that is the music industry, because every time we hit a low, we would shortly experience an epic high. First it was being invited to the band’s sell out gig for a performance on stage. Then it was Look North visiting us on station for a live recording. Then Channel 4’s Last Leg got in touch ... and just as we thought we had achieved everything possible, we got invited on the BBC Breakfast sofa!
So what did we actually achieve? Well, not a Christmas number one, that’s for sure. But actually, the outcomes of this campaign were, well, priceless. For the first time in a long time morale was high within the organisation. People were talking about it – there was a real sense of excitement in the air. Central red watch were a part of something huge – and even their families were getting behind the camera to support their bid. Fellow firefighters, support staff and even the Chief were rallying for the win – and we achieved all of this internal engagement for the price of ten t-shirts. It just goes to show, with a little imagination and a sprinkle of festive cheer, you really can make anything happen.
Find out more about the campaign on Storify here
- Laura Keen, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue