BBC World Seeks Attention

BBC World News has launched its version of the famous “I Want My MTV” campaign, placing map-piece-bearing workers on street corners to advise viewers of the “world they’ve been missing.”

Although the 24-hour news channel is seen in 274 million households and 1.4 million hotel rooms worldwide, its U.S. penetration is paltry so far: 2.3 million homes served by Cablevision Systems and Verizon Communications, plus programming on YouTube and on PBS stations.

“I think we missed some business opportunities in the past,” said Rome Hartman, the executive producer of BBC News, U.S. “We offer an unmatchable view of the world.”

Hartman hopes to get people talking about BBC World News programming. “The more they find out, the more they will want,” he said of people who sample the network. “They will learn about the stories that aren’t being covered” by more widely distributed news outlets, he added.

The campaign was timed to take advantage of consumer dissatisfaction with international news coverage. According to a poll commissioned by the network, viewers used words like “sensationalist” and “superficial” to describe currently available international news coverage.

BBC World News executives and their agency, BBDO New York, created 450 giant map pieces that workers will display initially on street corners in Los Angeles, San Diego and Columbus, Ohio, to raise awareness of the channel.

Map pieces also will be placed in parks, at beaches and outside libraries, universities and Internet cafés.

The pieces depict 12 countries the network believes are underrepresented in U.S. news coverage, including Iran and China.

Map pieces bear the campaign tagline, “See the World You’ve Been Missing,” and direct observers to Guerilla teams will also distribute magnets in the form of map pieces.

The Web site has programming clips, and visitors are invited to show their interest in receiving the news channel from their local cable or satellite provider. The page can also be forwarded to friends.


In Los Angeles, the main element is a cable art installation on a building at 9th St. and Santee streets. The installation is visible from a major freeway just south of the downtown garment district.

The artwork represents a recent international news story: the clash between government opposition activists and law enforcement in Russia.

Online, the channel has invested in rich media interactive banner advertisements. Internet users can click on a spinning globe in the ad. Details of an international story will be revealed and will redirect users to the site.

The news network’s entertainment-geared sister channel, BBC America, will support the marketing campaign with cross-channel spots.

Hartman called the guerilla campaign just the start of a process designed to get more attention for the BBC World News service.