In a brilliant use of social media, a news show in Panama City gave potholes in the streets their own voices on Twitter. The crew of Telemetro Reporta installed motion-sensitive devices in craters across the city, programmed to tweet authorities every time cars ran over them, until they fixed the problem!
The makers of the show said that they wanted to highlight how horrible the roads of the city had become. Despite having one of the fastest growing economies of Central and South America and a concentration on skyscrapers that earned it the nickname ‘Dubai of Latin America’, Panama City’s streets were pockmarked with holes and ditches that made every commute a nightmare.
“It would seem that in a rush to build a modern city, Panama forgot to take care of its existing streets, creating a contradiction of modern buildings and damaged streets,” the show’s promo declares. “This is not amusing for the people that drive on the streets every day.”
So the crew of Telemetro Reporta teamed up with ad agency P4 Ogilvy & Mather, to create a new segment called ‘Tweeting Pothole’. They picked out the worst potholes on the busiest streets of Panama City, and “installed a device that every time is run over by a vehicle, sends a complaint tweet directly to the Twitter account of the Department of Public Works.”
“We are trying to use humor and technology to try to solve a problem that is not easy to solve,” Pinky Mon, vice president of creative services at Ogilvy, told Quartz.
Apart from the Tweeting Pothole campaign, the initiators decided to raise awareness about the problem in other ways, as well – they mapped the most damaged streets of Panama City on a website and invited citizens who were sick of driving over the potholes to tweet their frustrations.
“My next car will be a tank,” a frustrated young driver tweeted.
“My baby is going to be born blurred due to so much shaking,” a pregnant woman declared.
“Dampers, arrowhead, wheels… these holes have broken every piece of my car,” a cab driver added.
The project has been a huge success. The potholes’ tweets have gone viral, forcing authorities to sit up and take notice. Using the maps and tweets, city workers are finding their way to the worst potholes and attempting to fix them one at a time.
Minister of Public Works Ramon Arosemena has also reacted to the tweets, saying that he is keenly aware of all the ‘gaps’ in the nation. “The gaps are the result of years of neglect and poor practice in construction,” he said.
We’ve seen Ogilvy come up with some original marketing campaigns in the past. Like when they curtailed violence among football fans by employing their mothers as stewards or when they gave rugby players who lost their teeth in action ‘Beer Tooth Implants’!
The Tweeting Pothole, however, has to be their most brilliant idea yet!