Could you wait while I look for my hearing aid?

Can you Hear Me Europe? Really? That is the best name that MTV could come up with for their European Elections project?

As I noted last week, the campaign is initiated by European Commissioner for Communication Margot Wallström and MTV, who met earlier this week. It has received some press coverage.

I think the campaign’s name is misguided at the least. The Commission’s target of ‘young citizens between 18 and 24’ is the most recalcitrant and rebellious demographic. Their likely response to “Can you hear me Europe?”: No, and I don’t care.

Communications consultants frequently repeat the mantra : Don’t repeat the negative. If you’re writing a letter to the editor, you don’t restate the erroneous claim. If you’re writing a speech, then focus on hope and optimism not doom and gloom. If you name a campaign about voted engagement, don’t highlight the general lack of ‘sound’.

In addition to a Twitter stream, the most visible component right now is a set of faux-home videos in which kids climb up Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and other monuments and hang speakers. I don’t understand the trend of faux-viral videos. Some group in Brussels did a faux video of Palais de Justice’s dome blowing off, and not even 4,000 people have watched the video. Though I am impressed with the CGI skills.

The ‘keystone’ of this campaign is something called ‘The Shout‘. MTV is inviting everyone in Europe to shout, “Can you hear me Europe?” at 15h30 on April 30. I couldn’t believe it was that simple, but it is.

I can’t help but think of that worn-out quote that it is;  “full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.”


April 22, 2009 | 10:06 AM

The loudest sound so far is a big yawn. Europe trying to be cool seems to get the same reaction as when I get up to dance at my kids' parties. With only 8 days to go, the campaign has only generated 374 followers on Twitter and all of 34 members of the Facebook group. No doubt a substantial proportion of those are stagiaires on the make or eurotechnorati like yours truly just checking out the action, or rather lack of it. You can take a horse to water...

April 10, 2009 | 3:02 PM

I tend to be cheerful about many EU campaigns and digital campaigns. I just don't see much to this one. I am partially disappointed because I was expecting much more out of a partnership with MTV. It will be interesting too see the real-world and TV component. I'm hoping for a big concert in Brussels.

Julien Frisch
April 10, 2009 | 2:17 PM

As I have said, I did'nt get the message first, seeing one of the spots. But doesn't "Can you hear me Europe?" exactly have the rebellous sound of the generation to be reached? Isn't it an easy phrase, translatable in all EU languages without losing sense, without double meaning - and easy to shout, too? And for me, it doesn't sound that negative as you put it. Altogether, I don't fully get your arguments, although I admit that for most campaigns you'll find things you don't like, in particular for political campaigns. So I am at least glad that the Commission uses MTV to campaign for Europe - could have been much more boring.