Media: Strategy Analysis - Met reveals real side of knife crime

Brand: Metropolitan Police Service Client: Metropolitan Police Service Brief: Raise awareness about the dangers of carrying a knife as well as encourage the reporting of knife crimes Target audience: Eleven- to 18-year-olds within London, focusing particularly on the younger end of this age group Budget: £80,000 AGENCIES Media: MediaCom Creative: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy Web design: Metropolitan Police Service Radio: Kiss FM, Choice FM Leaflets: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy


Sixteen thousand knife crimes were committed in London during a 12-month period in 2003 and 2004. Concerned by this statistic and the number of young people carrying knives, the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Blunt in late 2004 to tackle the problem. Blunt's strategy was to use a combination of education, enforcement and partnership activity to reduce knife crime.

Research and anecdotal evidence showed many teenagers think carrying a knife is no big deal, which may in part be explained by the fact that there is no minimum sentence for knife possession.

The Met wanted to address this complacency and challenge the belief that a knife can protect you. The December 2005 campaign informed young Londoners of the consequences of carrying a knife and asked those with knife crime information to phone Crimestoppers.

To succeed on such a limited budget - £80,000, including production - the campaign had to infiltrate young peer groups and ignite word of mouth to achieve awareness.


- Creative: A mock computer game called Knife City was created on DVD. At first sight, it appears to be a demo for a violent video game, complete with a realistic cover, gritty graphics and pounding music. However, as the lead character stabs his victim, the action cuts from animation to real footage, which shows the assailant in police custody. The demo ends with the strapline: "Carrying a knife. It's not a game." Testimonials from real victims, their families and surgeons were included in an extras feature on the DVD.

- Media: Video-game culture is all about swapping tips and cheats, while the audience is always on the lookout for the next big thing. The DVD was a "Trojan horse", taking the message to the heart of this group.

- Sampling: Ten thousand Knife City DVDs were distributed to teenagers by Kiss and Choice FM street teams across 12 London boroughs in the run-up to Christmas 2005.

- Radio: Kiss FM and Choice FM DJs encouraged listeners to go to the station websites and download the Knife City demo for free, plugging it as a genuine new video game. The DJs raised the profile of the issue via a series of anti-knife infomercials, conveying the message in a credible way. Choice FM also ran an anti-knife artwork competition, which was promoted on-air and online.

- Online: A microsite,, was created. It included the Knife City demo, a video download featuring real stories of knife crime victims (from the BBC's Panorama programme) and a feedback page. The Knife City demo was also positioned as "game of the month" on Kiss and Choice FM's websites and was made available as a free download. A viral of Knife City was also sent to around 40,000 people.

- Flyers: Metropolitan Police schools liaison officers and youth workers distributed 30,000 anti-knife flyers.


The dedicated microsite received 25,000 unique visitors as of March 2006.

Of those who saw Knife City, 83 per cent of respondents gave a positive rating, with 31 per cent saying it was "excellent"; 54 per cent of respondents said the creative concept was "an effective way of getting the message across" and 30 per cent said they would discuss the campaign with friends.

The campaign received media coverage and was featured on BBC London, ITV London, Sky News, Richard & Judy and news and gaming websites. Related articles also appeared in the Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph and regional press.

Most importantly, over the course of the campaign, actionable calls to the Met about knife crimes rose by 30 per cent compared with the previous year.

THE VERDICT - Mike Colling managing director, MC&C

Two strong insights strike you here. First, there is great creative insight: it's not an obvious establishment message, likely to be rejected. The use of the video-game format fits the audience's culture and it's a clever technique that will appeal to a media-savvy audience and should also be talked about.

Second, there is great media insight: if the creative concept was a Trojan horse, so was the media plan, drawing on and developing the creative insight.

Credible media partners were used in an intelligent way, with messages embedded in editorial rather than simple advertising. The on-air activity encapsulates this, with presenter mentions and competitions. This is the station speaking, not the advertiser. Presenter mentions are a very effective, and still rarely used, technique.

The use of websites to offer downloads of the demo and the street teams to distribute it both extend the idea of assuming the media owner's identity.

Equally, using the radio stations' e-mail databases to send an e-mail on behalf of the campaign was also a good move. The campaign relied heavily on the strong relationship between the stations and their audiences, and this utilises that relationship to the full.

My one quibble would be with the mock live reads, which do not quite resonate as they might. These fake presenter mentions seem to point to a slight loss of nerve by the media planner. Perhaps, looking at the coverage and frequency achieved by the real live reads and the competition, there was too much concern for conventional media numbers.

The results, however, are pretty good: more than 4,000 demo downloads from the stations' websites is not amazing, but alongside downloads from the microsite, as well as the thousands of DVDs distributed, the reach is pretty broad.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the campaign is the way it caught the attention of the chattering classes, with extensive coverage generated in other media.

In summary: great insight, which is evident in the quality of the creative as well as the media planning. Minor criticisms of the execution don't detract much from a strong, inventive campaign.

SCORE: 4 out of 5 (excellent).