When briefed to devise a communication campaign that would increase safety awareness and behaviour among mine workers,Rick and Sue Melvill, the creative powerhouse behind Unplugged, realised they needed a professional who could drive home the message.
So they called on the services of a snake-handler. “We put him and his snakes in a room with the mineworkers, none of whom were too keen on being there,” remembers Sue. The idea was to create an experience that the audience would not soon forget – and it worked.
“Throughout that particular campaign we had used the analogy of a snake to communicate the safety message. Exposing the audience to live snakes was the most effective way to make them remember the importance of safety even after we had left,” she explains.
This is what good industrial theatre can achieve. There’s an immediacy to it that immerses the audience in a topic,creating a memorable experience and leaving them with a lasting impression of a message. It’s unsurprising that Unplugged is renowned for doing it so well –Rick and Sue were pioneers of industrial theatre in South Africa and today they remain thought leaders in the industry, continually pushing the boundaries and breaking new creative ground.
Their impressive list of blue chip clients includes Murray & Roberts, Standard Bank, Anglo American, Cell C,Volkswagen and Nedbank, to name but a few.Long before the term ‘industrial theatre’ had even been coined, Sue, freshly back from theatre school in Paris, met Rick,whose background was in advertising. Sue recalls:
“He wanted to bring theatre into the corporate world and I was looking for a way to turn my theatre into a business.” The pair formed Blue Moon in 1991 and through their work, began convincing South African businesses of the value that industrial theatre could add as a communication tool. “We were lucky to work with some visionary people in the early days who bought into what we were doing and recognised its value,”says Sue.
She recalls a comment made by Trevor Munday, who was then with Dulux, following a project that she and Rick did: “He said it was the first time that his workers and managers had had a shared emotional experience. And that’s what good industrial theatre does – it’s a common language that appeals to everyone and changes mindsets.”
This is not to say that getting it right is always easy. And there is very little room for error, as anyone who has cringed their way through a condescending and embarrassing piece of industrial theatre will agree. In addition, and as Sue points out, industrial theatre is not about art for art’s sake.
“It’s a tool to help clients meet their goal,” she says. To meet this challenge, she and her team delve into all aspects of a client’s business, getting to grips with the culture and issues so that what they produce is relevant. “As they say,creativity is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration – if you do the groundwork you will come up with the right idea.
Before you can branch out and be creative, you need to understand the business and get to the essence of the communication,” she says.After selling Blue Moon, the Melvills opened a retail company before eventually returning to their first love and launching Unplugged in 2000.
With the capital realised from the sale, they purchased the building which is now the home of Unplugged. “The wonderful thing about this business is that you have to come up with creative new ideas every time – you can never do the same thing twice,” says Sue, “And today, we’re not just about industrial theatre – we’re about communication as a whole and we draw on a wide range of media and communication tools.”
This philosophy of ‘newness’ permeates the culture of the company, urging it constantly into new territory. The journey there is sure to be an interesting and creatively inspired one. Take a bow.
How Nic Haralambous Launched His 6 Year In The Making, Overnight Success
Nic Haralambous launched 8 failing businesses. He used the lessons learnt from that failure to ensure the success of his new business Nic Harry.
Nic Haralambous, the founder and CEO of Nic Harry who started off selling bamboo socks online and now has brick and mortar stores with a larger product range around the country. Nic has also written a book titled Do. Fail. Learn. Repeat. which is a brutally honest look at entrepreneurship and follows Nic’s entrepreneurial journey. Learn from his failures and how he used them as the foundation of his success.
Related: (Podcast) Speak More Honestly
Vuyo Tofile Of EntBanc Group Talks About Finding Solutions And Partnering To Offer The Most Value
Vuyo Tofile offers his advice on how to know if you’re ready to scale and how to get it right the first time.
Vuyo Tofile, CEO of EntBanc Group (Pty) Ltd, which is a privately held enterprise and financial technology group. They empower small businesses with the right tools including products such as mySMEtools, which is used by over 46 000 small businesses. Learn about partnering for success, develop tools and resources that your customer base needs, and how can you scale?
Eben Uys Shares His Concept Behind Mad Giant Brewery And How You Can Make Your Business Stand Out In A Crowd
“You just need to start” says Eben Uys, don’t make up excuses why you aren’t ready. Just start.
Eben Uys, Co-founder and CEO of Mad Giant, a Brewery in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. Eben brings new life to craft beer and has made his brewery and restaurant Urbanologi, a destination hub. His advice: “You can do things that give you short-term gains, but it might not benefit you in the long term. Try a lot of things over a long period of time and build a reputation and a network.”
Lessons Learnt2 weeks ago
Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage
Increase Profitability2 days ago
Leon Meyer GM At Westin Cape Town Shares 4 Experience-Driven Tips On How To Keep Your Team Productive
How to Guides2 weeks ago
The 10 Most Reliable Ways To Fund A Start-up
Celebrity Businesses6 hours ago
11 Celebrities That Are Profiting From Their Investments In The Lucrative Pot Industry
Cool Offices5 days ago
6 Companies With Amazing Office Layouts To Inspire Your Office Redesign
Company Posts2 weeks ago
Building Customer Relationships
Self Development1 week ago
(Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas
Entrepreneur Today1 week ago
How Are South Africans Feeling About The Work Environment?