BOYS + GIRLS, Dublin / THREE IRELAND / 2020
The indigenous Irish Island of Arranmore is one the last remaining ‘Gaeltacht’ regions that speaks the native Irish language.
Decade after decade, the island's population has dropped as islanders left in search of employment - a problem compounded by the digital age.
After the government excluded Arranmore from the national broadband scheme, it was predicted to be abandoned by 2042; meaning young families and modern businesses couldn’t survive there. And if life on Arranmore disappeared, so would its unique dialect and culture.
We developed ‘The Connected Island’ idea to demonstrate the power of Three’s
connectivity and after the tech was installed, our PR brief was to share the
news with people in Ireland that they could live and work on Arranmore.
But to truly prove the power of Three’s connection we would have to reverse 150+
years of emigration, so we felt we had to take the brief even further…
Once we had brought connectivity to Arranmore Island, we needed to bring people.
We needed a creative idea that put Arranmore on the map and captured the hearts and minds of both the public and the consumer media.
Rather than relying on just a press release from Three Mobile, we thought it would be a better idea to let the islanders do the talking, as they could bring the magic of Arranmore to life in a more personal, authentic and captivating manner.
We wrote a series of open letters, with the Arranmore Island Council, declaring the island open for business and inviting people to live, work, and connect. To grab the attention of news desks, each letter was uniquely tailored to the country receiving it.
This human-interest led approach was designed to generate editorial cut through and appeal to media outlets that we know are turned off by branded comms.
The Irish Potato Famine (1847) led to one of the greatest mass exoduses from a single island nation in history. Most settled in America, Australia, New Zealand, and Britain – resulting in a country of 5million having a diaspora of over 80million.
A small quirk of this small island is that Irish stories get more attention nationally, if they’re taken seriously internationally. So, our PR strategy was to force reappraisal of Three by targeting the Irish diaspora who have a romantic longing for the country of their ancestors. We knew they’d be captivated by an Irish island inviting them to move and connect. We also knew Ireland’s diaspora wields strong cultural/political influence in their adopted countries, so local media would take note.
Each open letter was tailored by country. It contained local references/messages
about our shared histories, providing media outlets with relevancy for
their audience, increasing our chances of pickup.
Arranmore had been excluded from the Irish government’s broadband plan because of immense logistical and technical challenges.
First we did what the government wouldn’t, by giving Arranmore 5G. Then we used Three’s technologies to protect Arranmore’s unique way of living.
With innovations like smart buoys to revitalise the island’s traditional fishing industry and technology to connect it to a global market, smart classrooms to strengthen the Irish language, connected healthcare to keep its elderly population safe, and Ireland’s first offshore digital hub so people and businesses could move and work remotely.
TV, radio, and print told the overall story and were utilised for scale, while targeted web films, display ads, and direct mail gave our core target of business decision makers greater detail of Three’s abilities and technologies.
And to capture the imagination of people around the world, we released an open letter encouraging people and businesses to move.
The snowball effect worked. From top-tier US networks, to prime-time TV in Australia, to national UK media, we connected with the hearts and minds of the international media, achieving a potential reach of 1,150,912,505. But more than press coverage, more than social media engagement, more than anything, we saved a dying island from extinction.
From US adventurers making the trip across the Atlantic, to Korean documentary makers picking up the story, to Twitter employing its first Arranmore resident, to a journalist visiting and never leaving, the story of our PR campaign runs deeper than the usual metrics.
Arranmore received over 3,500 enquiries to move. Tourism increased by 84% giving the local economy the boost it desperately needed. But most importantly, the population of the island grew by a massive 11% - securing the island’s future for generations.
The results we achieved on this seemingly insignificant island on the edge of Europe were deemed so significant by the European Commission that they invited us to Brussels to present the project to an audience of 200+ community groups, government representatives, and senior officials of EU Member States, as a blueprint for how to use connectivity to save other isolated communities on the brink of extinction.
And finally, the overall campaign was good for Three’s business too, with “The Connected Island” achieved unprecedented uplifts in business metrics:
+152% YoY growth
+18% Business leads
+17% IoT sales
+23% Connected Products & Services uplift
+203% Corporate base business growth
+50% Revenue on business solutions