Cas Client

Please Don’t Stop the Music

Le Challenge
In late 2010, the Dutch government made the decision to cut funding for the popular Dutch Broadcasting Orchestras, a musical institution with a strong identity at the heart of Dutch musical life. Not only would the Netherlands lose three world-class orchestras and a choir, but the budget cuts would also lead to hundreds of lost jobs. To help save the “sound of music,” the Dutch Broadcasting Orchestras approached Burson-Marsteller.

Burson designed a headline-grabbing PR campaign focusing on the plight of the orchestra and the magical impact music has on nearly everyone. The campaign reached out to the government by using “classical” public affairs tactics in order to convince them that the Dutch Broadcasting Orchestras should stay.

A letter-writing campaign and meetings with government officials got some funding restored, but the team realized that a much more public campaign appealing directly to ordinary Dutch citizens was needed if more funding was to be restored. The team decided that flash mob performances at high profile locations around the country would be the way to ignite the Dutch public’s passion for music. These performances would serve as a reminder that the institutions they were about to lose were modern, entertaining and a vital part of Dutch culture.

The first flash mob orchestra took place at The Hague Central Station during rush hour and caught everyone’s attention, causing a stir within Parliament. Months later, on a sunny Sunday, at 3 p.m., more than 300 musicians and a choir invaded Dam Square in Amsterdam and erupted into a rendition of “O Fortuna” from ‘Carmina Burana,’ a famous Latin cantata. The crowd went crazy, and everyone agreed, "please don’t stop the music."

Both flash mobs made the evening headline news on major national and international news channels and the front pages of newspapers. The Dutch Broadcasting Orchestras number of followers on Twitter and Facebook surged. Most importantly, the Dutch government joined the chorus and decided to save more than half the budget to keep the Dutch Broadcasting Orchestras alive and playing.