CAMPAIGNS: Public Awareness - Nil by Mouth fights bigots in Scotland

Client: Nil by Mouth

Client: Nil by Mouth

PR Team: PM PR

Campaign: Publicity for Nil by Mouth campaign

Timescale: July 2000 - ongoing

Budget: Undisclosed

Sectarianism in Scotland often finds its most vocal expression during Rangers versus Celtic football matches.

The Old Firm, as the two Glasgow giants are collectively known, are the most popular teams in Scotland and dominate the domestic game.

In 1995, 16-year-old Celtic supporter Mark Scott was murdered in the loyalist stronghold of Bridgeton in one of a growing number of sectarian-motivated attacks. His friend Cara Henderson, who recently graduated from Oxford University, formed charity Nil by Mouth last July to highlight the threat of sectarian-motivated violence.

Former Celtic PR manager Peter McClean offered the services of his PR agency PMPR.


To work against sectarianism and encourage social integration and celebration of cultural diversity.

Strategy and Plan

PMPR was to highlight awareness through the media, using the launch of a pounds 40,000 poster campaign as the hook.

The agency worked with councils across Scotland to raise the issue of sectarianism violence. It lobbied politicians to float the idea of a change in the law to make sectarianism a crime on a par with racism and sexism.

PMPR assisted in the design and distribution of three campaign posters, each carrying the slogan 'Sectarian behaviour can lead to violence'. Rangers and Celtic endorsed the campaign through financial contributions and displayed the posters at their stadia. It was the first time the clubs had undertaken a united anti-sectarianism initiative. Elsewhere posters were displayed in train stations and on buses. Henderson was made available for interviews and spoke about sectarianism in schools.

Measurement and Evaluation

Effecting a change in people's mentalities is a long-term goal, not easily measured by conventional methods. That said, the impact of the campaign in terms of media coverage has surpassed all expectations.

The campaign received blanket coverage by the Scottish media. It was covered by The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, as well as the BBC's Newsnight and radio stations.


The campaign caught the mood of the political establishment in Scotland. The Millennium Commission has granted pounds 402,000 to a partnership between Nil by Mouth, Glasgow City Council, Rangers and Celtic, the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church Campaign.

From May, funds will be allocated to groups with ideas for anti-sectarianism projects. Since its launch, health union Unison has publicly endorsed Nil By Mouth, stating that its members, hardened to a nine-fold increase in violent attacks following Old Firm matches, appreciate the campaign.

The campaign also attracted several Scottish celebrities, including novelist Ian Rankin, composer James McMillan and film producer Peter Mullan. Their support can be harnessed in future campaigns.

There is little doubt Nil By Mouth's success is down to the active role played by Henderson. The media has portrayed her as an independent person without religious bias and whose convictions are fuelled by personal tragedy.

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