Fake Pirate radio station hijacks young drivers' attention

The 'UNXPECTD FM' campaign, created by VML for Think!, is a car-safety campaign that features People Just Do Nothing’s Hugo Chegwin and Top Boy’s Kareem Ramsay

By creative salon

The Department for Transport has unveiled a campaign for Think!. The audio-focused work aims to encourage young drivers - and particularly young men - to drive to the limits and conditions of rural roads in the UK.

Young men aged 17-24 are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the road in comparison to older groups. They are likely to underestimate the risks on the road, and their likelihood to be involved in an incident.

UNXPECTD FM, developed by integrated creative agency VML UK, sees a life-saving ‘pirate radio station’ tune into drivers' cars when rural road conditions get sketchy. Through exciting talent and audio content targeted in real-time, the work will take over young drivers' airwaves to capture the attention of this notoriously hard-to-reach audience.

Guy Opperman, Roads Minister at the Department for Transport said: “We hope this fresh campaign cuts through to young men, who statistically are the most likely to drive too fast on rural roads and in dangerous conditions. This is a fresh initiative from THINK!, using recognisable voices and innovative technology to remind drivers of risks right behind the wheel.”

The innovative new work has been created to appear not as ads, but as a pastiche of a pirate radio station, complete with a pair of straight-talking DJs - People Just Do Nothing’s Hugo Chegwin and Top Boy’s Kareem Ramsay, whose playful banter cleverly weaves in serious messages. Ever heard of ‘ghost cows’ or ‘shopping trolleys being pulled by huskies’? Well, you soon will.

Hugo Chegwin, Writer and actor, commented: “I’ve no idea where they got the concept of a pastiche pirate radio station from!! But it’s entertaining and puts an unexpected spin on an important subject. Just like that ninja black ice, yeah.”

The intelligent ads use real-time dynamic weather data to serve up references specific to rural road conditions - such as ice, wind, or rain - that young drivers may find themselves in. A highly-targeted hijack when they need to slow down the most.

Added Frances Cooke, Creative Director at VML UK added: “Nobody likes being told how to drive, especially young guys. To cut through when they are behind the wheel, we knew we couldn’t sound like a government message. So, working with the incredibly talented and authentic voices of Hugo & Kadeem, we brought to life UNXPECTD FM, a campaign designed to not sound like a ‘campaign’ at all. One we hope our audience will lean into and help save lives.”

UNXPECTD FM will run across radio and audio streaming platforms such as DAX and Spotify. Media strategy is by Wavemaker, media planning and buying from MG OMD (OmniGov), and media delivery by A Million Ads. Measurement will be tracked by Verian.


Client: Department for Transport, THINK!

Marketing Team Lead: Laura Hill

Senior Campaign Manager: Shelly Tucker Campaign Manager: Deborah Owusu Campaign Manager: Meygan Da Silva

Agency: VML UK

Executive Creative Director: Nick Rowland Creative Director: Frances Cooke

Lead Creatives – ACDs: Pete Bastiman & Bish Creatives: Ryan Timms & Lucy Green

Head of Production: Charlotte Greywoode Producer: Maddie Ramsay

Head of Strategy: Kate Nettleton

Strategy Director: Matt Kemp

Junior Strategist: Poppy Green Client Partner: Lloyd Sampson Business Director: Eric Gruber Account Manager: Busola Obasa Project Manager: Greg Nicholls

For further information please contact:

Resource Manager: Rosie Crocker Studio Manager: Nathan Jones Design Director: Dominic Frain Designer: Jack Webster Communications Lead: Billi Hatfield

Hugo Chegwin: Creative

Sound Studio: Jungle Studios

Audio Producers: Coral Clayton, Philla Marshall Senior Sound Engineer: Chris Southwell


Executive Creative Director: Ann Wixley Creative Lead: Kurt Strong

Planning Lead: Alexandra Lattimore Planning Manager: Lily Worrall

OmniGOV at Manning Gottlieb OMD

Client Director: Camilla Green

AV Business Director: Jessica Tosh Implementational Planning Director: Harry Pledge


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