Department for Transport targets young men with audio push

The campaign, created by VML, features Hugo Chegwin and Kareem Ramsay

Jeevan Georgina Hammond

Editorial Assistant Creativebrief


VML and the Department for Transport are leaning on cultural currency to highlight road safety to young men aged 17 to 24.

The audio-focused activation sees Hugo Chegwin of ‘People Just Do Nothing’ and Kareem Ramsay of ‘Top Boy’ play hosts for faux radio show, Unxpectd FM. It aims to tackle the risks that young men, aged 17-24, face when driving in rural areas.

This age group is four times more likely to experience a serious injury, or even fatality, on the road than other, older groups. At the same time, according to the Department for Transport, this group is also likely to underestimate the risks of the roads. To tackle the issue, The Department for Transport’s Think! road safety initiative is airing a pastiche pirate radio station to alert drivers of potential dangers, as and when they occur.

Unxpectd FM takes over airwaves when rural road conditions become potentially dangerous. Attuned to real-time dynamic weather data, the broadcast delivers vital information about environment conditions like ice, wind, and rain.

The targeted, real-time content is delivered by the recognisable voices of Hugo and Kareem; stars of shows popular with the target audience. Their voices over the hijacked airways warn this vulnerable group of drivers to slow down.


To reach the target audience, Hugo and Kareem deliver a serious message with a mixture of straight talking and banter. Warnings like, if you’ve never heard of ‘ghost cows’ or ‘shopping trolleys being pulled by huskies’, you might do soon.

Hugo Chegwin, writer and actor, explained: “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”.

Frances Cooke, Creative Director at VML UK said the campaign “couldn’t sound like a government message”. She continued: “Working with the incredibly talented and authentic voices of Hugo and 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”.

The activation will be aired on radio channels and audio streaming platforms like DAX and Spotify. Wavemaker is responsible for the campaign’s media strategy, with media planning and buying coming from MG OMD (OmniGov), and media delivery achieved by A Million Ads.

Using intelligent technology and delivery, the campaign hopes to make rural roads safer for an at-risk group of drivers. By considering what is relevant to the target audience, VML UK and Think!  hopes to engage this hard-to-reach audience and deliver an important message.

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