In 2015, Škoda, as a personal mobility brand, decided to put tackling the problem of isolation, which affects 65% of Spanish municipalities, at the heart of its social responsibility strategy.
The first initiative to form part of this social responsibility campaign was the award-winning 70 Guardians of Winter, a project that helped Škoda save the highest village in Spain, Valdelinares, from being abandoned by providing a car, which in turn created a job that attracted a family to move to the village, thereby ensuring that the village school remained open and other families were not forced to leave.
With the The Desert Cowboys campaign, Škoda is strengthening its commitment to public mobility and creating tangible initiatives to support areas of Spain that are suffering from the effects of isolation and poor communications.
The company aims to extend the scope of its project far beyond Almería and Spain, as its end goal is to make people aware of the global problem of isolation in rural areas, an issue that affects thousands of villages all over the world. An English version of the project has therefore also been developed. Available to view at http://www.thedesertcowboys.com, it will be launched across the Czech brand’s various markets. The website includes a feature where users can propose a village or area in the world at risk of isolation to become the company’s next project.
The Tabernas Desert (Almería) has formed the backdrop to almost 600 films. Some of the locals who used to work as professional actors in international films now perform in shows for tourists.
Since the demise of the western, the villages in the Tabernas Desert have suffered from a lack of job opportunities and poor services and communication links. This has had huge demographic implications for the area – the number of people living here has halved in recent decades, leading to an ageing population and making isolation a real threat to be feared.
The The Desert Cowboys project was launched on 18 July in Spain with the presentation of a short film in classic western style, and starring people who actually live in the desert villages. The film recalls the region’s glorious past, explains the reality of present-day life there, and launches a challenge using a device in the style of Change.org. If the video reaches 5,000,000 views it will demonstrate public support for the plan to create a desert transport service – a stagecoach for the 21st century. The campaign hashtag is #Letsfightisolation.
The stagecoach service will be free and will connect several villages in the area which no longer have transport, such as Tahal and Senés, helping people currently struggling to access basic services to do so more easily. Proximity Barcelona and PHD designed the media plan for the campaign, which includes several branded content films that will be released during August and September, exploring the region, its history and people in greater depth. The content will be available on Škoda’s Facebook page and at thedesertcowboys.com/.
The videos, including one about the school in Tahal, which is on the verge of closure because there are not enough pupils, and another about the village of Marchalico, which is now completely abandoned because the last inhabitant left the village for love, are due to be released shortly.
At the same time, Škoda has promised to stimulate economic development in the area by getting film stars involved in the issue and promoting the film industry in the region by sponsoring the Almería Western Film Festival. As the name suggests, this festival is dedicated to westerns, and was launched in 2011 with the aim of repositioning Almería as one of the world’s leading film locations.