Content related to Get Stolen Radio Stunt / J. Walter Thompson Sri Lanka

Reborn is a Sri Lankan men’s casual wear brand.

The brief: Bring the brand top of mind and boost sales during the year end shopping season.

Sri Lanka is notorious for abductions and disappearances of media personalities. The symbol of this phenomenon is the ‘White Van’, which has long been associated with kidnappings in Sri Lanka.

The Idea: Guys who wear Reborn t-shirts get kidnapped or stolen.

Radio is the most popular medium among our TG. But how do you dramatize a visual idea like ‘Get Stolen’ for a fashion brand on radio?

We came up with a daring, groundbreaking media stunt never attempted before.

Make Sri Lanka’s favourite male radio DJs disappear.

Because Sri Lanka has 3 language audiences, we had to convince 3 radio stations to risk their ratings by taking their most popular voices off air. We used hit shows co-hosted by a male and female.

Monday 24th November - Sri Lankans woke up to their favourite Morning Shows… to find their favourite voices missing. The co-hosts called the DJ’s parents and friends on air. Listeners learnt that the DJs had gone out to buy a t-shirt the previous day and been missing since.

In the next 48 hours, we received thousands of calls and SMS messages from worried listeners as Sri Lankans began the country’s biggest ever search operation. Some were overwhelming:

“I’m an Army Officer serving in the warfront. I’m a big fan of DJ Araa. If you want, we can get the military to search for him”

Even with Sri Lanka’s limited Internet penetration, the web became active with material created by listeners. The missing DJs became the talking point of blogs, chat rooms and Facebook.

Instead of the feared ‘white van’, which causes security issues, we sent out a yellow van with a gang of girls and a guy wearing the same t-shirt the missing DJ was last seen in.

Two young guys spotted the van and recorded the real life chase on their camera phone.

The video got more than 1000 hits on Youtube within hours.

Meanwhile, Tamil listeners demanded the Government to find their DJ.

The Real Highlight

A Tamil listener from Jaffna, the North of the country, personally offered a reward of Rs. 1 million Sri Lankan Rupees (10,000 US$) to anyone who helps find their missing DJ.

With Sri Lanka in turmoil, we were under pressure to reveal the truth. In fact, we had to bring the Tamil DJ back on air day ahead of schedule to avoid a political issue.

Finally on the third day, the DJs reappeared on their shows and revealed the story.

‘When I came out of the mall wearing my new Reborn t-shirt, a gang of girls came out of nowhere and forcibly took me away in a yellow van. I had the time of my life thanks to Reborn’


Sales for the month of December grew by 62%, and Reborn became known as a chick magnet among guys.