The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Katie McQuater, Magazine Editor

November 11, 2016 | 4 min read

At The Drum's Do It Day event, Dixons Carphone teamed up with Undercurrent and BluPoint to raise the profile of its aim to bring connectivity to rural African townships.

Imagine a world where connectivity isn't taken for granted, and where getting access to the internet could mean the difference between life and death.

That's the message Dixons Carphone addressed via its CSI (corporate social investment) initiative to bring connectivity to remote townships in South Africa, partnering with BluPoint, a solar-powered pop-up intranet platform which brings connectivity to areas with no internet access.

Dr Mike Santer, founding partner at BluPoint Ltd, said: "It's really difficult for us to understand the impact of connectivity, because we live in a world where connectivity is quite ubiquitous and most of us have smart devices, whereas if you're in Africa, particularly in rural poorer communities, very often data is extremely expensive.

"If you were a teacher in Malawi, it could cost you a whole month's salary to download a single movie from iTunes. It's incredibly expensive and very often you don't have electricity in your property, so charging devices is problematic."

With the additional barrier of only 23% of mobile devices in Africa being smart, it's difficult for people to access potentially life-changing information, such as educational materials for teachers, or health advice such as how to live with conditions such as diabetes.

Partnering with experiential agency Undercurrent, the challenge the trio took to Plan It Day (the precursor to Do It Day), was to create a campaign to promote information sharing between the UK and South Africa.

The winning strategy, executed at Do It Day on 10 November, took the two-pronged approach of creating a 90-second ad filmed exclusively in 360 video, accompanied by a social media marketing campaign to amplify the film's message.

With some filming taking place on location in South Africa prior to Do It Day, the rest of the 360 video was produced on the day itself, with one half of the team charged with filming around London to highlight the contrast between connectivity in the UK and connectivity in South Africa.

The medium of 360 was chosen for its immersive qualities and the fact it can be filmed and produced relatively quickly - in this instance, using Samsung's Gear 360.

"In the UK, internet is seen as a utility after electricity, gas and water, but there's a huge proportion of the world who aren't connected," said Damien Clarke, Undercurrent founder and chief executive. "360 video is a great way of showing the juxtaposition of how people consume content and access the internet in Africa with how it's accessed in the UK.

"Here, it has hit saturation point - it is the next utility and almost everyone has access to it, whereas over there, pretty much no-one has access to it. It allows people to look around here and realise we have hit saturation point compared to how people access content in rural South Africa. It's a way of comparing the two different environments."

Santer added: "I think the 360 format lends itself to that immersvive experience, where people can begin to imagine what it would it be like if they couldn't just connect to the internet or charge their phone."

BluPoint's aim, Santer said, is to engage more companies as investors to help in its aim of impacting the lives of 20m people in 20,000 communities by 2020.

In addition to the filming in Piccadilly Circus and King's Cross, produced to contrast with the 360 footage already gathered in Africa, the team also had a tight timeframe in which to write and record a voice-over script on Do It Day - a key element of tying the film together, telling the story of comparing connectivity in the two countries and build empathy in the viewer.

Now live on YouTube, the film is accompanied by social media campaign featuring the hashtag #AfriCAN, to highlight how connectivity and the ability to access information - things most of us in the developed world take for granted - can help people pursue their goals.

Dixons Carphone Connectivity Do It Day

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