‘Even if my story helps just one child, it’s absolutely worth it’ – Behind the Campaign

Fatim Kesvani, head of marketing at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, discusses the organisation’s recent awareness-raising campaign.

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

‘It’s time to be heard’ was the landmark awareness-raising campaign for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, inviting victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to come forward and share their experiences with a trained facilitator through its Truth Project. A first-of-its-kind campaign, its objective was to ensure as many people as possible were aware of the opportunity to talk about their experience. Each experience shared with the Truth Project made a vital contribution towards better protecting children in the future, helping to inform the Inquiry’s final Report and recommendations for change, published in October this year.

How did the idea come into being?

Even today, child sexual abuse (CSA) is still commonly considered a taboo topic. While much progress has been made, the subject remains shrouded in silence. This is the core reason why changing attitudes and driving culture change around the subject was such a fundamental aspect of our campaign. It goes without saying that the very existence of the Inquiry had already impacted the public consciousness where child sexual abuse is concerned, but the campaign aimed to take this further; to reach all corners of society, and help create an environment where all survivors would feel supported to come forward.

Our initial TV ad campaign reflected this. Developed by Mullen Lowe in consultation with our Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel, it displayed empty speech bubbles floating above people’s heads in towns, parks, cities and seasides, highlighting unspoken experiences. We wanted to capture public attention and highlight the impact of child sexual abuse, while ensuring the language, tone and imagery was appropriate and minimised the risk of triggering.

Briefly describe the planning and process.

Underpinning our planning process was the knowledge that CSA is something that affects people of all backgrounds and ethnicities, wherever they live, and many face significant barriers in disclosing abuse. To help achieve this, we extended the reach to include younger adults, those with a disability and those from an ethnic minority background.

Guided by media buyer MG OMD and media planner Bray Leino, a combination of video-on-demand, audio and community media proved successful in maintaining a constant and steady flow of interest throughout the campaign period. We collaborated with sectored print and radio outlets, featuring sponsored reads on community stations with a loyal listenership to engage with these audiences directly.

For our younger adult audience, the most impactful channel for this campaign was Spotify, both audio and video, delivering a total of eight million impressions, reaching 1.5 million unique listeners and generating over 7,000 clicks.

How did you measure the results, and what were they?

It was reassuring to note that public attitudes really did see a shift since the launch of the awareness campaign back in 2019. Polling by Yonder found that over two-fifths of respondents believed the country is now more comfortable discussing CSA compared with five years ago. In addition, a majority said the country had become more informed on the issue and more open to listening and learning about someone’s experiences of it.

As well as the change in culture, what’s been so important to see is the number of victims and survivors who were able to come forward to the Truth Project. When it came to a close in October last year, more than 6,200 survivors had shared their experiences, all making a vital contribution to the Inquiry.

One survivor told the Truth Project: “It was a huge weight off my shoulders to finally be able to share my story. I can’t thank the Truth Project enough for their support and kindness throughout the whole process. Even if my story helps just one child in the future, it’s absolutely worth it.”

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