For those that don’t know, Neighbours is a soap opera filmed in Australia and aired on BBC One (the most popular television station in the UK) twice every weekday at 1:45pm and 5:35pm. The show has an almost cult-like status among the majority of students in this country and is watched religiously.
Due to the poor scheduling of the show, those in full-time employment (who work the common 9-5) will find it difficult to watch the show and as such find themselves slowly becoming apathetic towards it before forgetting about it entirely.
Being a big fan of the show in my student days, I was grief-stricken when I was forced to stop watching the show due to having a full-time job. This resulted in a tongue-in-cheek, pseudo-scientific ‘study’ into the possibility of showing a Neighbours omnibus on the BBC television network. Whilst writing this I actually discovered that showing an omnibus was actually a real possibility, albeit a minute one.
After this ‘study’ was created I designed a website for it, started an online petition and emailed it to some of my friends as a bit of a joke – fully expecting it to fizzle to nothing within a couple of days.
What I didn’t expect was for it to receive hundreds of hits a week, feature on a radio station, appear in a newspaper and get an article written about it in a leading web news portal – it seems more people wanted the omnibus than I had ever expected!
Under the auspices of ‘The Centre for Study into the Possibility of a Neighbours Omnibus’ (CenSPoNO – my attempt at a tongue-in-cheek reference to corporate branding) the petition received an average of 50 signatures per day for two full weeks before tapering off to a slower, more sustainable pace.
With over 50 results for a Google search of ‘CenSPoNO’ and an inclusion in Wikipedia, this has become a more popular campaign than I first planned – especially as no advertising, mass-mailing or search-engine submission has been undertaken by myself*.
It took a few weeks for a local radio station (XPress Radio) to pick up on this craze and they promoted it themselves, on-air and by featuring it on the main page of their website. A few weeks later the main star of the show, Alan Fletcher (AKA Dr. Karl Kennedy), was being interviewed by the radio station – the station manager then printed off the petition and got him to physically sign it.
It was not long after this that the petition and website were featured in an article written by the Cardiff-based newspaper, Gair Rhydd, and an influx of signatories were received on the petition.
Plans for the future include some ‘guerrilla marketing’ and getting other Neighbours cast members to sign a physical version of the site – selling these for charity and simultaneously gaining more advertising. This combination should create a wave of new signatures hopefully having a ‘snowball’ effect and making this site the first destination for Neighbours omnibus related information.
Now that a significant amount of signatures have been received [4400 as of 01-Oct-2007] I hope to one day print them all off, along with the report, and send it all to the BBC – hopefully inciting a change in scheduling and succeeding in putting a Neighbours omnibus on TV.
*Not entirely true. I did post to Neighbours-related message boards, email Neighbours websites and use social networking websites to contact Neighbours fans. It was simply a legal, spam-free and clever marketing campaign** undertaken by myself.
**Want to tap-in to my genius and give me a job as a ‘hidden persuader’ in marketing? I’m fine with that!