Did the EP go web crazy?

It certainly looks like they did to Public Affairs 2.0, and we like it.

The “Choice Box”, which we gave you a sneak peak of in the previous post, is actually a interactive, multi-media studio which will travel around Europe, allowing people to record videos to send to MEPs and EuroparlTV.

This is just one part of the online component of the European Parliament Secretariat-General’s European Elections 09 Communication Campaign, launched this morning.

The campaign has a unified message: Choice. They aim to show that citizens should be engaged because they have ‘to choose’. The EP was also at pains to point out that this campaign is institutional and non-partisan; the campaign does not support policies, positions, parties or people. Just the elections.

As Public Affairs 2.0, our interest clearly is in the web component of this campaign, which we were told is the first time that the EP has used the internet to inform and educate citizens about the elections. The online campaign already includes an elections website on Europarl, launched earlier this year, and it will also consist of:

  • 37 interactive multi-media studios called a ‘Choice Box’ will allow citizens to record video messages and send to MEPs and political parties. Response will be posted on EuroparlTV. (See the photo of a ‘Choice Box’ in the previous post).
  • An online banner campaign to support the website (they are hoping for millions of clicks in May.)
  • Social networking sites, which the EP will launch in April. They are focusing on Facebook, MySpace and others as essential modes to communicate with young people.
  • Thousands of design variants of online graphics.
  • Other items…

PA 2.0 is impressed with the EP’s ambitions and enterprise, though we can’t help but chuckle at some of the street installations. The ‘Choice Box’ is the most innovative and unknown activity. Will people actually use it? Will it be useful? Will it really ‘connect’ citizens with the Parliament?

Fleishman-Hillard has designed and implemented similar projects with excellent results, including one for the US Library of Congress called ‘Voices of Civil Rights’, collecting stories on a bus tour across the country from the people who took part in the US Civil Rights movements. During the 70 day trip to 39 cities across the US, nearly 200,000 people visited the bus. The Parliament has about 60 days to the elections, and I’m sure that they would be pleased with similar results.

PA 2.0 fully supports integrated online and offline communications. The website matches the design and style of the street installations and the Choice Box. The videos and comments from the Choice Box will be online. Posters and banners in cities, road shows, advertising on television, on the radio, in airports, buses and trams will drive people to the elections website . They also said that they plan to offer briefings to journalists. The campaign should build up on itself, offline and online activities supporting each other.

All of these activities will be complemented by the hard political campaigning of local politicians, though it will be interesting to see how some MEPs (UKIP comes to mind) will react to the street installations appearing in their local markets.

Finally, the EP is paying €18 million for this campaign, which the EP’s Communication staff says is a bargain at €0.05 per eligible voter.

Bring it on.


A colourful new digital home for the UK office of the EP « Public Affairs 2.0
March 19, 2009 | 4:11 PM

[...] my recent trend of being downright cheerful about new EP digital initiatives (it must be the week of sun in Brussels which has cleared off my [...]

March 18, 2009 | 8:23 PM

Fair point Ralf. But as we tell our clients, there are some things that even great communications can't solve. James

Ralf Grahn
March 17, 2009 | 6:59 PM

It may be technically brilliant, for all I know, but what about real choice for the voters (Commission President and executive)?