Client: The Samaritans
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: ’Come Up’, an initiative aimed at young people
Timescale: Ongoing from June
Budget: pounds 1,500
Every day, two 15- to 24-year-olds take their lives in the UK. Suicides
in this age range account for 19 per cent of deaths as opposed to one
per cent of deaths in the general population.
The Samaritans is a well known charity that provides a confidential ear
for people to talk over their problems, face-to-face or on the
However, the organisation feared that young adults did not relate to its
image and were reluctant to make full use of its services. In light of
the number of pressures on young people to have a good time over the
summer months, the charity decided to target this age group with a
campaign kicking off in June.
To urge young people to contact The Samaritans, to discuss their
In particular the charity was keen to generate interest among the music
media as a means of boosting its credibility among its target youth
Lise Colyer, the charity’s press officer discovered that Phil Selway,
the drummer of band Radiohead had been an anonymous volunteer Samaritan
for 11 years. She approached him to ’come out’ in the interests of
creating a positive image of the charity among young people. Selway
agreed that his youth appeal and the impact he could have, were worth
blowing his cover.
In the meantime, Leigh Kenny of Bedlam Ago Go - a band signed to the
Sony label - approached The Samaritans and asked if he could publish
their contact details on his new CD. At the age of 22, Kenny suffered a
breakdown and the band’s latest single ’Asylum’, described his
This involvement with Sony resulted in soul singer Des’ree and the bands
Jamiroquai and The Dirty Beatniks also offering their support to the
Promotional T-shirts were printed, bearing cut-outs of a funky photo by
Hester Blankestyn, a winner in the charity’s annual photography
The campaign was launched at Chez Cup in the Atlantic Bar and Grill in
London’s West End on 24 June, with both Selway and Kenny available for
Coverage in the music press included the NME and the Melody Maker.
Mainstream press interest ranged from the Guardian and the Independent
to the Sunday Telegraph and the Express. On the launch day, packages ran
throughout the day on local radio news bulletins and Radio 1, with
interviews with Selway on XFM, Radio 5 Live and Talk Radio.
Selway and The Samaritans’ youth co-ordinator, Alison Weisselberg
appeared on GMTV, with Channel 5 News and Carlton’s London Today
following the story up later in the day.
All calls to the Samaritans are in confidence so it is difficult to
quantify how young people have responded to the campaign. However, the
charity’s Festival Branch, reports that visitors to its tent at
Glastonbury the weekend after the launch, had a greater understanding of
how the charity could help. Campaign tactics, such as ’exposing’
Radiohead’s Selway, certainly met the objective of generating interest
from the music media, and milking a modest budget for all it was worth.