Ending the Awkward – delivering Scope’s awareness campaign

Daniel MazliahDaniel Mazliah is Head of Media Relations at Scope

Charity, comedy and disability: surely a recipe for disaster.

Our new campaign, End the Awkward, which I’ll be talking more about at NCVO’s Campaigning Conference on 8 September, is all about getting people thinking differently about disability.

Since we launched in May, the ads have been viewed 1.4m times on YouTube, we’ve hit our target for sign-ups and we’ve had a 5% increase in awareness. The campaign has been covered in the Metro, the Telegraph, the BBC, Good Morning Britain and Sky News.

And there have been barely any complaints!

So what have we learnt?

Boringly, I think this campaign shows the benefits of building a good foundation first, so that ‘risky tactics’ become nothing more than the logical response to a campaigning challenge.

Tackling ‘innocent ignorance’

Disability struggles to grab public attention. This makes it tougher to get people to take action on specific issues – like the squeeze on social care. Our first step was research. Lots of it. We found out that the public avoid disability (and disabled people) because of their fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Also while ‘Scope’ is a household name, it became clear no one knows what we do.

Looking at the research we decided ‘innocent ignorance’ was the thing we needed to tackle to get disability and Scope on people’s minds. We targeted a 25-30 year old metropolitan audience, the age group with the most ‘awkwardness’. This gave us the opportunity to be brave in our approach, and create a pool of future campaigners and supporters.

Getting the concept right

Comedy proved to be the best bet for tackling the issue without being preachy or paternalistic. Grey London came up with the idea of the ‘public service’ ads. But it was clear they had to have warmth and humanity as well as humour. We put disabled people at the heart of it. Not just the narrator, Alex Brooker; we were in close contact with disabled stakeholders throughout. For the PR launch disabled spokespeople discussed awkward moments.

Weighing up success

After almost a year of hard work, we launched the campaign on 8 May with a PR burst. The ads were on C4 that weekend and then promoted through digital channels such as video on demand and in cinemas for the next month. We’ve been releasing new ‘awkward’ content every week, like this ‘awkwardness and relationships’ video, which keep the PR interest going.

We’ve been really encouraged by the response so far. But it’s early days. We’ll be tracking measures such as views, email addresses, and crucially, public awareness and attitudes to disability. Ultimately we want people to feel more comfortable with disability. If we achieve that on any level then it’s a step towards a better society – which is what we’re here for after all.

Still curious?

Daniel will be speaking at NCVO’s Campaigning Conference on 8 September 2014 on how your campaign can change attitudes towards important issues.

View the campaigning conference programme and book your place.

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