The aim of the campaign, in conjunction with charities the Marie Collins Foundation (MCF) and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), was to educate young men to steer clear of sexual images or videos of under 18s online and to advise them what to do if they stumble upon such content.
It is illegal to look at sexual content of under 18s in the UK but a whole generation of young Britons has grown up with unprecedented access to sexual content online. Campaign research showed that there was an especial deficit in young men’s understanding of the law governing IIOC (indecent images of children), and many young men explained that not knowing how and where to report images was their main barrier to taking action.
We had several jobs to do, including:
a) Encouraging young men to pay attention to our campaign (the government talking about sexual content is not something you’d expect young men to listen to)
b) Educating them about the law around IIOC
c) Driving behaviour change in reporting IIOC so they can be removed.
Our specific campaign objective was to reduce first time and unwitting offending by educating and empowering young men (18-24 years old) to navigate the internet more responsibly. In essence we needed more young men to realise that looking at sexual content of under 18s is illegal and report it to the IWF if they saw it - helping remove content and save a child from further suffering.
A unique challenge and solution
How does the UK government create a campaign linked to sexual content, masturbation, illegality, and reporting AND get young men to pay attention, considering all the potential shame surrounding these topics? It took a team of government and charity partners –the IWF, the MCF and agencies like Four Communications, Kindred, Manning Gottlieb (OMD) and Ipsos MORI– who used research and innovation to develop a new way forward.
While this was not a victim-focused campaign, we always kept in mind that our end goal was to stop the abuse of young people via sexual imagery. One of our key partners, the MCF, focuses on enabling children who suffer sexual abuse and exploitation via internet and mobile technologies to recover and live safe, fulfilling lives.
Our approach was audience centric. We aimed to build on real-time insights into young men and their online behaviours. Research from Ipsos Mori and tools like TGI, plus behavioural analysis, led us to choose gaming and sport as core themes. Behaviour change theory taught us that the messenger for this campaign needed to help us build salience, making social influencers a key channel.
Our campaign wasn’t a shaming conversation; this was something important that was worth talking about but it needed to come from the right person and feel authentic. Football vlogger Theo Baker was our chosen influencer. His passion, intelligence and connection with a young male audience elevated the work and delivered strong results. His tone helped ensure the content was straight talking – we weren’t here to shame young people for viewing sexual content but to encourage open conversations and break down taboos.
To reach a new audience in the gaming sector, we coordinated a partnership with Twitch – exploiting Theo’s strong following there. This was handled carefully given the sensitivities of the campaign and the nature of Twitch. We did a Sunday takeover and worked with Theo to produce a signed off script – recognising that beyond gaming, there are other things users might be doing on the internet. We highlighted how his followers could make a difference by reporting sexual images or videos of under 18s online to the Internet Watch Foundation. The focus was on reporting – all content had the IWF as a call to action for reporting and the hashtag #onesimplereport.
Theo dispersed the script live within a four hour gaming stream hosted on Twitch’s home page. The content achieved 42,000+ views and over 1.6 months of engagement, with positive comments from his network watching and listening in. The activity was lined up with Twitch’s partnership team and elevated via media spend.
Key features of the Twitch & Theo Baker activity
Theo’s Twitch content achieved 42,000+ views and nearly two months of engagement with our core young male audience, which Twitch indicated demonstrates strong performance.
Theo also shared a cut down of the video – with the campaign’s messaging – on his gaming YouTube channel. The video secured more than 7,000 video views. The social media posts achieved 3,281 likes, 11 comments and three shares. The Instastory secured more than 7,000 impressions and over 20 swipe ups to the video. This allowed us to target a different audience to previous years where we have worked with him on his main channel which focuses on lifestyle and football content.
Tink Palmer, CEO of The Marie Collins Foundation, said:
“The partnership with Theo Baker provided a unique opportunity for The Marie Collins Foundation to reach an audience of an age and gender profile to which we would not ordinarily have access. Theo’s direct, no-nonsense approach was appropriate for his audience, yet he also managed to get across serious messages regarding the law, risk and the harm caused to victims of viewing, downloading, sharing and creating indecent content of under 18s. Due to sensitivities surrounding the topic, other potential partners have felt unable join us; Theo, however, bravely adopted our cause and was unafraid to share and discuss messages, which we recognise are sometimes difficult to hear. We remain grateful for his enthusiasm and support!”
Critically, this engagement drove action. Ipsos Mori research showed clear attitudinal shifts and reporting behaviours.
Fill out the form below and we'll work on connecting you to the entry creator!