West Midlands Combined Authority is made up of 18 local authorities and three Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) working together to move powers from Whitehall to the West Midlands.
As part of the major transport and traffic restructuring in the West Midlands, the local authority, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) needed to communicate to the general public the why, what and how. Key objectives were to create not only understanding but also buy-in from the general public, who will face much worse travel disruption over the next 5 years, before being able to enjoy any of the benefits.
It was agreed that film would be the best approach to engage the general public, visualising as much as possible the various impending changes, and explaining how every member of the public can do their bit to alleviate the pain. The main challenge was that effectively, there was nothing to be filmed: most work hadn't started yet, and none of the benefits could be shown. The solution was to be straight-talking and give the film a personal touch: no from-the-top-down communication with a raised index finger, no aloof voiceover. Instead we wanted the audience to hear what's happening from the horse's mouth, and in a fun and engaging way. We filmed the West Midlands' very well-known and highly regarded Mayor, Andy Street, as well as the leader of Wolverhampton City Council, as simple pieces to camera – with a twist. Both were filmed on a green screen background, so we could have graphical illustrations appear next to them. These images underpinned, in a fun way, the serious messages and brought to life future plans. Moreover, we recorded the voices of real West Midlands’ citizens, warts and all. These authentic and relevant snippets of opinion were used as voiceover for more illustrations, showing the frustrations of those having to deal with disruption. This element brought much needed authenticity and credibility to the film, demonstrating that the WMCA is listening and understands people's concerns.
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