The post-pub punch-up is a late-night activity most people would rather avoid. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was keen to tackle the growing level of alcohol-related violence in south Belfast and assigned Weber Shandwick to create an integrated marketing campaign to highlight the problem.
To encourage young people to plan a safe route home before a night out. To position drunken assaults as unacceptable and build a sense of community around the problem. To reduce the number of serious assaults.
Strategy and Plan
WS had to walk a fine line in highlighting the problem while avoiding damaging the tourist trade or driving people away from local bars and clubs.
For the PR element, the agency focused on the measures being taken to combat late-night violence, such as increased policing and CCTV cameras in the area. It also publicised the dangers of drunken attacks to target audiences, such as local universities, through their newspapers and magazines, as well as specialist press such as music title BBM. It also worked with a number of partners, including Belfast City Council, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Federation of Retail Licensed Trade.
Broadcast outlets such as UTV and the BBC were approached with parts of the campaign that had a strong visual element. 'When we launched teams on the streets handing out information we were able to place that as a broadcast story,' explains WS senior account executive John McCandless.
TV crews also covered the launch party for the campaign, and the agency pushed a separate series of articles to local dailies and weeklies based around new events in the campaign - such as the large local publican chains becoming involved.
Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage was obtained in the Belfast Telegraph, Belfast News, The Big Buzz, BBC Northern Ireland, UTV, GMTV and local radio station Cool FM.
WS used an independent market research company, Millward Brown Ulster, to evaluate the campaign, polling 18 to 24-year-olds who use pubs and clubs on their increased awareness.
PSNI Inspector Keith Gilchrist believes the campaign got the message across, as the most recent results shows a 33 per cent reduction in serious assaults. He adds: 'The majority of those polled understood the Get Home Safe message, and 49 per cent felt the campaign had positively influenced their behaviour.'
Belfast News reporter Philip Crossey believes the broad range of people invited to the campaign launch helped journalists obtain a wide variety of comment.
'We have around 20 publications in the Belfast area, so often at events you're all chasing the same three people. Here there were enough good people around to interview,' he says.