CSR CAMPAIGN: Vodafone cuts out text message bullying

Mobile phone bullying is becoming more prevalent among UK teenagers (especially girls), some of whom are using their phones as a means of anonymous bullying via text and video messaging.

A still from Sarah Craig's short film
A still from Sarah Craig's short film

Campaign: Vodafone 'CUT-it-out'
Client: Vodafone
PR team: Threepipe
Timescale: October 2007 to February 2008
Budget: £40,000

Vodafone's Corporate Res- ponsibility division briefed Threepipe to create a consumer PR campaign that would educate teenagers in the responsible use of mobile phones as well as provide advice to teachers and parents.

To encourage teenagers to think responsibly about mobile phone usage. To provide practical advice to teenagers in coping with and helping others who are being bullied. To educate teachers and parents in how to support affected children. To highlight Vodafone as making a positive contribution to tackling mobile bullying.

Threepipe created the Vodafone 'CUT-it-out' campaign, a film-making competition in partnership with charity Beatbullying, Bliss magazine and Vue cinemas.

Teenagers were asked to script a short film in response to bullying. The competition was launched in Bliss and on mybliss.co.uk via an interview with Beatbullying ambassador Shayne Ward (previous X Factor winner), who was chosen for his appeal to teenage girls and because of his own personal experience of bullying.

Ward took part in a series of press and radio interviews to launch the campaign, delivering coverage including The Sun Online and Radio One.

A dedicated campaign microsite was built (bullyingcutitout.co.uk), which featured content provided by Beatbullying for those seeking help. The site was promoted via regular Bliss email newsletters, Bliss editorial and ongoing media coverage. The campaign was additionally promoted within 347 Vodafone UK retail stores via its consumer magazine Seasons.

An HTML mailshot was sent to all secondary schools encouraging teachers to incorporate competition entry into lesson planning and teaching.

The entries were shortlisted into regional finalists and promoted throughout the local media. These were then shortlisted to three final entries and the teenagers were invited to London for a weekend to help turn their ideas into real films.

The three completed films were posted on the Bliss microsite, YouTube and Vodafone live! and teenagers were asked to vote for their favourite film.

The winner was unveiled as 15-year-old Sarah Craig from Glasgow. Threepipe arranged for an exclusive screening of the film at her local Vue cinema and invited Scottish national and local Glasgow press to attend. The film is currently being screened across all Vue cinemas as well as being shown on all cinema foyer TV screens and being made available as a Bluetooth download.

The campaign generated more than 80 pieces of coverage and reached 74 million people with an AVE value of £521,000. All coverage was positive and mentioned Vodafone, CUT-it-out and Beatbullying.

Some 25,000 people clicked through to the CUT-it-out microsite from the Vodafone live! mobile portal and more than 400,000 will see the Vodafone branded winning film shown on the 607 screens throughout 62 UK Vue cinemas. More than 300,000 downloaded the Vodafone film to their handset from cinema foyers.

Paul Thomas, senior consultant, Trimedia CSR division

The most important element to this campaign was the negotiation of the partnerships. Linking up with Beatbullying gave the project credibility and opened doors to the media, celebrities and other stakeholders.

Paul ThomasBliss was a natural fit for both parties and gave the campaign access to 130,000 teenage readers, and the relationship with Vue enabled the project to reach mass audiences via the company's cinemas.

Competitions are often used as a means of communicating important messages to young people. The true test of whether they have worked is the quality and quantity of entries. In my experience, the more complicated you make the competition, the fewer entries you will receive.

This competition asked quite a lot from its target audience, and in my view many young people would have been put off entering it. Easier tasks such as asking applicants to write a short story, rap or song would have been simpler and would have worked just as well.

The campaign's use of celebrity endorsement was good and the Shayne Ward webchat provided excellent content for teenage and music websites. Providing a presence on MySpace could have worked well at this stage - the obvious choice medium for reaching this demographic.

A MySpace campaign page would have been fairly simple and inexpensive to erect and the site could have been used to generate more competition entries.

Offering the three finalists the opportunity to create their films with a professional crew must have been truly inspiring for the young people and worth more than any iPod or Nintendo Wii.

The media evaluation figures are impressive, but in the end the campaign's success hinged on the well-thought-out charity, media and business partnerships.

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