Journalists were taken along on the operation, yielding features that reflected the Met's key messages. Gaining the backing of Arsenal FC's managing director Keith Edelman was key. The Met was offered the football club's press facilities, pitchside filming access and free advertising space in match programmes.
Focusing media attention on this operation provided an ideal follow-up story for the second phase of the campaign, when the Met reported that 30 of the 70 offenders arrested prior to the first phase were awaiting trial.
Breaking the silence
Poster, press and ambient ads were created in the style of other police ads. The headlines 'Big Hitter' and 'Heartbreaker' and images of apparently respectable high-flyers were contrasted with copy revealing that they hit their partners. Each ad explained that people abusing their partners could no longer hide behind their silence. Press ads were booked into sports sections of newspaper to specifically target men.
The second phase also introduced a radio ad. A man's voice was heard talking as if he had recorded a dating voicemail and describing himself 'a bit of a heartbreaker'. A woman's voice followed this with the explanation that he also 'breaks noses, jaws and ribs', and the ad went on to explain that a partner's silence no longer protected him from prosecution.
'The second phase was all about reinforcing the message,' says Philippa Wadsworth, marketing manager at the Met. 'The ad reminded people that domestic violence is out there, and we complemented this by releasing details of the progress of prosecutions.'
That the Met's campaign complemented activity by Women's Aid and Refuge was important. The Met's role is to protect victims, but also to arrest offenders, and this campaign was firmly focused on offenders. Ads run by the two support groups during the campaign period offered a message more directed at encouraging women not to put up with physical or emotional abuse.
This campaign was a finalist in the integrated category of the Institute of Public Relations 2004 awards, held last week.
Every week in the UK two women are killed in a domestic violence situation.
Because victims often don't want to press charges, the police have had difficulty prosecuting offenders. But new legislation means the police can now prosecute on the basis of witness statements and forensic evidence.
This campaign sought to target male perpetrators of domestic violence, informing them that their partners' silence no longer protected them.
The Met marketing team worked closely with victim protection organisations Refuge and Women's Aid, with marketing activity co-ordinated so that all campaigns dovetailed in message and timing. The campaign aimed to show that control is often significant in abusive relationships; it turned this on its head by showing images of men being arrested and therefore losing control. The campaign was launched in two stages, four months apart.
Media was planned to specifically target men in 'their' environment in spots that allowed for reflection on the message. These included male washroom panels in pubs, cinemas, and football grounds and stickers on gym lockers. The first phase was launched with a press conference at Arsenal FC, with the endorsement of the club's managing director, Keith Edelman.
The second phase featured radio ads and PR focused on offenders who had been prosecuted following the first phase.
Because of the way the Met records arrests, it is not yet possible to show whether the campaign has resulted in more prosecutions. However, tracking research has shown that more than one in four people recognised at least one element of the campaign's first phase - this figure increased to 42% of 16 to 24-year-olds. Other forces have expressed interest in conducting similar campaigns, and the Met's relationship with women's groups has been strengthened.
Advertising: The Advertising Syndicate
Media planning and buying: MediaCom