Media: Strategy Analysis - Urban education fights gun violence

Brand: Operation Trident

Client: Metropolitan Police

Brief: Sustain awareness of Operation Trident within designated boroughs

and make Trident more influential against gun crime within the affected

communities

Target audience: Afro-Caribbean men aged 18 to 30 in London

Budget: £300,000

AGENCIES

Media: Katrina Triffit at MediaCom

Creative: The Advertising Syndicate

STRATEGY Every year, members of London's black communities die as victims of gun-related violence.

The Metropolitan Police needed to win public support - particularly among 18- to 30-year-old Afro-Caribbean men - for its Operation Trident initiative to tackle the problem of black-on-black gun crime.

But this core audience are known rejectors of messages from the Met. How do you get through to people who have never wanted to listen?

The Met needed to get under their skins in a relevant, personal way. Interviews revealed the urban music scene as a community of interest where the target audience was strongly bonded and open to information.

It was also clear that the real voices of influence came from mothers and celebrities. The "Trident Communities" strategy was created to discuss the issue in this context. Funded content and ground-level interaction became priorities.

EXECUTION

An advertorial approach was decided on. Media properties were harnessed to messages relevant to those environments, to get across the subtlety and complexity of the issue. For credibility, in some places, de-branding let the issue be hero.

Street-level messages targeted mothers to become mouthpieces against gun crime on the Met's behalf .

- Radio: Peace on the Streets was a 12-part monthly programme on Choice FM. DJs hosted a forum to stimulate discussion and to educate listeners on how the issue was being tackled by police and communities.

A series of 30-second "live positive" infomercials on Kiss 100, voiced by Kiss DJs and urban musicians such as Lemar and Jamelia, were aired within a targeted schedule of urban, R'n'B, drum'n'bass and hip-hop shows.

- Online: A dedicated Trident area within the Kiss Online website supported the broadcasts on Kiss 100.

- Events: The Trident Live Stage underpinned our sponsorship of the Respect Festival, held to promote the anti-racist cause, at the Millennium Dome.

A live question-and-answer panel on "How gun crime is affecting the urban music industry" was held at The Urban Music Seminar, attended by ten thousand black youngsters eager to learn more about making it in the industry.

- Press: De-branded advertorial was placed in relevant titles, including music magazines and the black newspaper The Voice.

- Outdoor: Posters in Afro-Caribbean hairdressers and 48- and six-sheet spreads in hotspot boroughs targeted "mothers as a mouthpiece".

RESULTS

Qualitative feedback and more initiatives supporting the cause point to a groundswell of positivity. Ad awareness has hit 50 per cent and the associations are being talked about. But most importantly, the Met is experiencing greater credibility and co-operation and reported shootings are down substantially for the first time.

THE VERDICT

Phil Georgiadis - Founding partner, Walker Media

There can't be many more ambitious and noble objectives for a media plan than to reduce street murders. On the face of it, the media activity behind Operation Trident seems to have been a remarkable success. The author of this paper points to a 26 per cent reduction in incidents as a sign of "return on investment".

This is a much bigger decrease than in the previous period. So I suppose it's fair for the agency to point to this change of strategy as a key factor ... God help them if the figures went the other way! Personally, I might stop short of asserting a direct cause-and-effect; it might be tempting fate to correlate the rise or fall in incidents so directly to media activity.

Media can no doubt help (and this paper demonstrates the wide range of options available these days). For me the criteria of success should be more media-centric: "Has the plan provided the most relevant and imaginative response to the brief?" and "Has media been selected and exploited sensitively and will it help further understanding of the issues?"

I liked the insights that drove the plan. Unbranded content to reduce the automatic negative filter, multi-faceted local "ground- level" presence and the decision to target an element of the campaign at mothers. In fact, I thought that this last was perhaps the idea with the most media mileage. The younger audience are pretty savvy and despite the best efforts to talk with them, not at them, I'm sure the effect will be mixed. By targeting mothers, both the media and the message are liberated to be more direct, complete and powerful.

By being more targeted with the budget, it may be possible to have a sustained conversation that acts as a permanent reminder of the issue, with mothers most moved but, with careful media selection, other relevant groups "overhearing" the conversation.

A campaign such as this on a modest budget should attempt to be ruthlessly consistent from year to year. Media planning has a key role to play here.

But I wonder why the need was felt to change creative agency after such success? (The account has since moved to Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy.)

SCORE: 3/5.

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