NPR Station Urges Listeners to Have Sex and Make More Listeners

Keeping public radio in the family

Chicago's NPR station, WBEZ, is making a more intimate appeal than usual during its current membership drive. Rather than simply asking you for a few bucks, the station is asking you to "Go make babies" with other "interesting people"—who may be likely to become "interesting people" and future WBEZ listeners themselves. An accompanying ad campaign by Xi Chicago will appear in print, online, at train platforms and bus stops, on taxis and T-shirts. Headlines include:

—Do it. For Chicago.

—We want listeners tomorrow. Go make babies today.

—Hey Interesting People, get a room already. And then put a crib in it.

—To anyone NOT currently running a virtual farm:

—You're an interesting person. Pass it on. Like, literally. Through your DNA.

The URL leads to a Facebook app, where you can take an "Interesting Assessment" and get links to WBEZ content along with potential mates who share your interests. "This is a recruitment campaign. Pure and simple," says Xi group creative director Rick Hamann. "The more interesting, smart, curious Chicagoans we can deliver to WBEZ the better. But we figured it would be far easier to target their babies. Because they're far easier to carry. And I'm sure we'll be happy with the results, in the next 18 years or so."

Separately, NPR in Washington is orchestrating an integrated ad campaign this month for four of its member stations—KERA in Dallas/Fort Worth, WFYI in Indianapolis, WMFE in Orlando, and KPBS in San Diego—to grow the audience for their radio broadcasts and online streams. Ad agency Planit in Baltimore has created billboards, print and digital ads for those four markets that play up the eclectic nature of the typical NPR listener. See four of those ads below, targeting each of the four markets.