THE SECRET POLICEMAN’S BALL 2012 by Mother London, Splendid for Amnesty International

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Industry Charities, Foundations, Volunteers, Human Rights
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United Kingdom
Agency Mother London
Creative Pilar Santos, Rich Tahmasebi
Agency Splendid
Released March 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Charity and Not for Profit
Agency: MOTHER
Strategic Director/Managing Director: Alec Samways (Splendid Communications)
Public Relations Director: Niki Hunter-Ekins (Splendid Communications)
Digital Director: John Hobson (Splendid Communications)
Account Director: Matthew Fletcher-Jones (Splendid Communications)
Project Manager: Claire Hewitt (Splendid Communications)
Senior Publicist: Letitia Thomas (Splendid Communications)
Account Executive: Olivia Gibson (Splendid Communications)
Business Director: Sarah Byrne (Mother)
Executive Producer: Kit Hawkins (Mother)
Executive Producer: Al Maccuish (Mother)
Strategist: Sam Payne (Mother)
Creative: Rich Tahmasebi (Mother)
Creative: Pilar Santos (Mother)
Media placement: Consumer PR - Various - 25 January - 9 March 2012

Summary of the Campaign
Amnesty International is the world’s biggest organisation campaigning for human rights. It celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and to highlight its work and make the organisation relevant again with the mainstream general public, Amnesty brought back the Secret Policeman’s Ball.

The Secret Policeman’s Ball is a world famous project/property owned and used by Amnesty International to raise awareness and introduce new supporters to the organisation through comedy and music. It took place in New York’s Radio City Music Hall leaving Britain for the first time.

The challenge was to promote the Ball; introduce a new, mainstream UK audience to its cause and the Amnesty International brand; and to associate Amnesty with the fundamental human right – free speech.

The campaign used media relations, press office and a Facebook competition to raise awareness of the Ball 2012 and make it relevant to a populist UK audience. It secured coverage across broadcast, national print, showbiz, consumer and online media including a 7-minute branded slot with Jack Whitehall on the BBC Breakfast programme and a Page 3 column in The Sun featuring Russell Brand and a full showbiz column in the Daily Mirror.

The campaign created 1bn impressions and raised awareness of free speech with 69% of all coverage containing the free speech message.

The Situation
Amnesty International is the world’s biggest organisation campaigning for human rights. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, its campaigns are still vital. To highlight this and to underline its relevance with the mainstream general public, Amnesty brought back the Secret Policeman’s Ball.

In 2012, The Ball celebrated free speech through comedy and music and left Britain for the first time this year. Taking place in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, it was broadcast by Channel 4 a few days later. The challenge was to promote the Ball and introduce a new, mainstream UK audience to its cause and the Amnesty brand.

The Goal
• Raise awareness of the Secret Policeman’s Ball 2012 and make it relevant for a UK audience;
• Highlight the relevance of free speech in everyday life;
• Raise awareness of Amnesty International;
• Drive the UK public to engage with the Ball on Facebook and, later in the campaign, to watch the Channel 4 broadcast.

Our campaign was aimed at UK media and a mainstream, populist audience that went beyond Amnesty International’s traditional heartland.

The Strategy
Our strategy focused on a media relations campaign that combined the serious topic of free speech with the showbiz world of celebrity comedians and musicians. We set out to:

• Identify clear campaign phases and targets: launch; press office; Facebook competition; press trip; TV listings & previews;
• Drive interest in the Ball and free speech message by leveraging talent participating for free;
• Run a dedicated press office to ensure that the Ball and free speech remained in the media throughout the campaign;
• Devise a Facebook competition to drive UK relevance and allow authentic engagement between Amnesty and the British comedy community;
• Arrange a press trip, enabling key journalists to experience the ethos of the event and the celebrities’ motivations first-hand. This ensured in-depth brand and free speech messaging in post-event coverage;
• Drive viewer figures ahead of the Channel 4 broadcast via TV listings and previews.

Launch: The 7-week campaign launched with the announcement of headline acts Coldplay, Jon Stewart and Russell Brand.

Press office: we drip-fed talent updates, quotes and other material throughout the campaign. We placed an exclusive quote containing a free speech message from Russell Brand with The Sun and secured widespread online coverage.

Facebook competition: We created ‘The World’s Shortest Gig’ competition for aspiring UK comedians to win a 15-second slot on stage at the Ball.

Press trip: We set up 7 face-to-face talent interviews with The Guardian, The Independent and the Radio 4 Today Programme.

TV listings and previews: In-depth preview/review articles in The Guardian, The Independent and The i Paper were secured.

Ahead of the broadcast, we placed listings/preview coverage in all UK daily newspapers, a number of weekly consumer magazines including Heat, and entertainment and broadcast media including Radio Times and Time Out London.

Documented Results
The campaign raised the consciousness of a new generation and emphasised the importance of free speech.

• 247 pieces of UK coverage, smashing targets for each campaign phase;
• Over 1bn opportunities to see;
• 69% of all coverage and 55% of TV listings & previews included the free speech message;
• 62% of coverage included a link to the Facebook page or details of the Channel 4 broadcast;
• Facebook engagement rate of 17% (compared with a rate of 5% that is normally perceived as good);
• Over 1m viewers watched the show on Channel 4, exceeding the average viewing figures for that slot.