Indie Sydney Radio Station Asks Richard Branson For $1M
15 June 2009
Before the economy drama independent radio stations were already having a tough time, battling not only the mega broadcast radio networks that own multiple stations but also iPods, MySpace music, digital radio and satellite radio, just to name. But when you throw in reduced advertising dollars it’s easy to see why indie radio stations are hoping to hear a different economic tune soon.
One great indie radio station in Sydney – Fbi – is tackling their financial challenges head on, recently launching a fundraising campaign with one target in mind: Richard Branson and $1M dollars (or 450,000 British Pounds). While Sir Richard may not seem like an obvious choice – he’s not Australian and he doesn’t have any connections to independent radio – but he does like one thing . . . publicity.
The campaign – Ask Richard – launched a little over a month ago and works on a simple premise: get Richard’s attention through some type of publicity stunt or event or something that motivates him to donate $1M to FBi. If your action/idea/stunt was the catalyst for Richard to hand over some big bucks you get rewarded too – to the tune of $50,000. (And don’t worry, if Richard donates less based on your idea you still get 5% of whatever he gives.) The campaign blog site and Twitter activity captures everyone’s amazing ideas and inspires others to do more.
To get Richard’s attention, the station has given its loyal listeners an open playbook – do whatever you think could work to get Richard to write the big check. And the listeners have responded with a number of amazing ideas, including:
- Hosting a flash mob wearing Richard masks in front of Sunrise (Australia’s top morning news show) studios when Sir Richard was in town and being interviewed on the show
- Having a “We Play Til You Pay” all day concert event, inviting people via Twitter and Facebook to be a part of the event
- Creating a mini viral video game with a Richard character grabbing money off of a tree and giving it to FBi before the tax man comes
- Launching a Google Ad Words campaign under the assumption that Richard Google’s his own name and will then see the FBi campaign
- Making T-shirts and posters and having fans wear them and put them up everywhere
- Translating “Ask Richard” into as many languages as possible
The campaign works on multiple fronts. First, selecting a high profile target (that would be Richard) and leveraging a known insight that motivates his daily life (that would be publicity). Next, giving everyone a “do whatever” call to action, not limiting any idea or thought. And of course the simple visual for the campaign being used on T-shirts, posters and social media banners ties everything together. A great example of a campaign that knows its audience, keeps the conversation credible and authentic.
Now the finale – Richard Branson called in this morning (15 June) to FBi for a live radio interview from his Necker Island home. Turns out, as the story goes, that Richard heard about the “Ask Richard” campaign first from an Australian girl who allegedly swam 2 1/2 miles from an island close to Richard’s island, swimming right up to his beach and telling him about the campaign. (Sounds fishy but let’s go with it.) Richard said he has asked his teams at Virgin Mobile and Virgin Atlantic and V- Australia to help out FBi – and on-air promised to give a few flights to the UK and LA via his airlines for some lucky winners of the radio station. The station is starting a “Save FBi” supporter drive campaign and will definitely use these prizes for some great fundraising efforts later this year. The on-air host for FBi was able to get some money out of Richard – $70 – to become an annual member of FBi. Richard stated the obvious – they get asked for money all the time and try to channel their funds to their global efforts around climate change and disease control in Africa. The $70 is not $1,000,000 but no doubt Richard’s Virgin empire will be jumping in to help as much as possible, and hopefully will help keep the FBi radio station on the air for years to come.
Who knows, maybe Richard will change his mind. Come on Richard, pay up already. We’ll call it RFBi – Richard’s FBi – haven’t you always wanted to “own” the FBI?