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Havas Media helped build the world’s first intrinsically inclusive TV broadcast station

The 'Wakker?' filter - meaning 'Awake?' - let supporters transform their profile pictures, organically spreading the news.

Havas Media won ‘Best in Representation of Diversity and Inclusivity in a Campaign’ at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose, with a project called ‘Omroep Zwart’ - ‘The Black Network’ in Dutch. Taking advantage of The Netherlands’ fully public broadcasting system, the creators of this new, inclusive TV channel had to fundraise fast to make their dream a reality. Here, the team behind this winning idea explains how it came to life.

A wealth of scientific studies confirms representation matters. It is essential for growth and self-acceptance, while underrepresentation negatively impacts one’s self-image and mental health.

It would be silly to pretend the Dutch media is inclusive. When it comes to representation, diversity, and inclusivity, the NPO (Dutch public broadcasting service) has a bad track record for an entity that has societal representation as one of its founding principles.   

The Dutch media landscape is homogenous. While most Dutch recognize themselves in this homogenous image, a good many Dutch do not. And there are quite a few minorities present in our country. Fortunately, the Dutch broadcasting system is public. This means that if you can come up with at least 50K paying members before December 31, you can produce your own TV Channel.  

This is exactly what 2 Dutch celebrities decided to do, but getting to 50K people, explaining your ideas, have them support your idea, and have them contribute to the cause, all in 50 days, well that is a whole other ball game… They needed help and that is why they reached out to us.  

So how did we convince people to join us? After all, there was no tangible product to speak of. This meant everything else had to click the right way.

We designed a “no budget” marketing and influencer campaign from scratch: A Call for Change!  

To succeed we needed 50K paid memberships of 10€ in just 50 days. 

We named the channel ‘Omroep Zwart’ or ‘’The Black Network’’ to recuperate the positive meaning of ‘’Black’’, because a black object absorbs all the colors of the visible spectrum and reflects none of them to the eyes, a true ‘’Full Color TV Channel’’. 

Omroep Zwart mission is to connect people, regardless of their skin tone, preferences, heritage, culture, disability, religion, or gender. It’s the world’s first intrinsically inclusive TV broadcast station. Built on existing infrastructure, fueled by a sector-shattering interest in others. Enthusiastic, open, and connecting. Inviting viewers to get to know someone who looks, thinks, and acts differently from you.  

To put this new broadcaster on the map, we simultaneously targeted all the underrepresented audiences and invited them to participate and join. They were the role models for the new media landscape.  

Unique individuals, all with their own story, motivations, and followers. They helped to bring true ‘full color TV’ to the Netherlands by connecting the many bubbles. Not just people of color, but also LGBTQIA+ and differently abled people.  

The media approach was limited by the initial campaign budget (there was none). Budget for paid media could only be funded by the member-fee of those that registered. 

A total of nine agencies and production companies collaborated in this project.  

We then created a brand film that reframed the word ‘black’ into something positive and explained the concept of the channel.   

We then planned the campaign in three steps. 

First, we created buzz. As there was no budget, we mass-invited over 250 influencers who shared their photo with the campaign copy: ‘Awake? Join the new broadcaster’. Consumers responded with a resounding ‘yes’, resulting in lots of media attention. This yielded 29,000 paying members in the first weeks.  

Secondly, we released the brand film, gave interviews, and stimulated new members to share their membership on social with the question: ‘Awake?’ Using a personal Instagram filter, they became immediate ambassadors. The campaign then generated enough budget to fuel a paid social media layer to boost conversion.  

Thirdly, once we hit 25K members, we organized a ‘Double Day’ in which we asked every single member to bring along one friend.  

The campaign started out with an initial € 10 budget, paid for by the first member. Every new member added € 10 to the campaign budget, allowing for more optimization possibilities.  At one point, Facebook blocked our ads because they determined our page’s name, ‘The Black Network’ was too political in nature… this proved beyond doubt how necessary our initiative was. 

Omroep Zwart channel is now a reality.  Almost 60,000 members cement its No.1 spot among all candidate broadcasters. And the policy plan has now been submitted.  

Within three weeks of the campaign launch, Omroep Zwart became the most-followed Dutch broadcaster (100.000 followers on Instagram).  

  • The campaign led to 57,328 registrations who raised €573,280 in total. 

  • Of the € 573K raised, €37.892 was reinvested in the media campaign.   

  • Based on the initial € 10 budget, a staggering ROI of 1/57,328 has been obtained. 

  • Over 671 earned PR moments, including prime time national TV, resulting in a total media value of € 14.5m

  • 37,836 new members shared their profile photo with the campaign ‘Are you awake?’   

  • Acquisition cost was brought down to 0,77 ct per member.   

  • Our story reached the whole country 10 times over in 52 days. 

  • The launch of Omroep Zwart is the fruit of a unique cooperation. 7 agencies, 50 freelancers and 250 influencers participated on a pro bono basis. 

But the real result is that we are one step closer to making a meaningful difference. Not just momentarily but structurally. The presence of Omroep Zwart in the Dutch broadcasting landscape will ensure its spirit lives on for many years to come. 

Join the movement at www.omroepzwart.nl. 

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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