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Hard Calls Save Lives - #BehindTheIdea

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How would you live knowing that one phone call from you could have saved someone else's life?

Doing phone calls to report a knife crime can be hard, but as AMV BBDO's latest campaign for Crimestoppers recites, Hard Calls Save Lives. Following a partnership with Crimestoppers and the MET Police, the agency collated some of the most heart-wrenching stories of knife murders, to raise awareness of knife crime around the UK – and to highlight that these hard calls can also be 100% anonymous.

The campaign below features some of the most painful stories we've ever heard – told straight from the victim's mothers. The fact they are all real stories can only make reality worse. Today we are getting Behind the Idea following a chat with Martin Loraine, Deputy ECD at AMV BBDO, to learn more about how this incredible campaign came to life.

What was the brief?

To drive more information sharing from the public (targeting mothers and female relatives close to those at risk of knife crime), to help prevent future knife crime in 
London.

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

I’ve worked with the Met for over ten years and it’s always a collaborative process. With so many stakeholders involved, we share work at an early stage to check ideas are resonating with everyone involved. We burned through a lot of ideas in post-it note form and got very close to production with a couple before the client approved the Hardest Call campaign. We had to be extremely careful – the issues involved are often powerful and provocative and everything comes under very close scrutiny in the media.

Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

Some people in the communities affected by knife crime have difficult relationships with the police, and often a fear of reprisal - which makes seeking information to prevent it difficult. In the past, we’ve even launched campaigns like the Choose A Different Ending Knife Crime campaign unbranded. For this campaign, having mothers tell true stories was a way to talk directly to people without their relationship with the police being an issue. The idea comes from a non-judgemental understanding that some people who want to help find it hard to call with information. This led to the thought that violent crime leads to many incredibly hard phone calls, which became the idea that while it is hard to call, there are harder calls. The mums tell their stories, in their own words, built around a traumatic phone call they had to make after their child had been stabbed. We felt it was right because, without lecturing anyone that they ought to call, the mothers’ stories could show why they should. 

What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

Once we’d established whether the mothers were open to working with us on the campaign idea and keen to share their stories, we began our production process. This began with telephone conversations with the mothers in which I asked them to describe every call they made on the day their son was killed. I was looking for the most traumatic, human and memorable stories. Once we found the story, our director Seb Edwards interviewed each mother in a recording studio for 2-3 hours to explore their stories in detail. These sessions were harrowing for the mothers – the biggest challenge was that the idea required them to cohesively relive calls they made immediately after their child’s murder. And once our audio was finished, they had to relive the calls again for the film shoot. The Met, AMV and Academy were very aware of our collective duty of care to the mothers throughout the production, and we gave them final sign off on all the material. They were courageous throughout and totally determined to help other families from suffering in the way they have. 

What is one notable thing that happened during the production of the campaign?

It was already a difficult and sensitive production because of what we were asking of the mothers, and then Covid hit. The delays meant that we found more mothers than we needed for the films – so we expanded the campaign and included these stories on the campaign website. But we had to ask the mums who were available – some of whom are already helping others by being carers and NHS workers – to record and film during Lockdown.

What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter?

Calling with Knife Crime information may seem difficult. But there are far harder calls you could be making. And those calls could stop others from suffering as these mothers have.

What is one unique aspect of the campaign?

This chance to hear the true stories behind the statistics and show the pain and devastation knife crime causes innocent people.

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

AMV received the brief around 2 years ago so it’s been a long process, but the response has made it worthwhile. The campaign was covered by BBC National and Local news, ITV, SKY, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Sun, Evening Standard and MSN, and Home Secretary Priti Patel made a statement publicly backing the campaign. The launch at New Scotland Yard also gave the mothers a chance to speak directly to journalists and tell of their stories and motivations in more detail. 

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

That it stops people dismissing the idea of calling with information. We know it’s hard, but those people who want to help can do it anonymously and help prevent further suffering. 

Credit list for the campaign?

Client: Crimestoppers X Met Police
Brand: Crimestoppers
Client name: Stephanie Day, Maxine Geale, Elisabetta Lanave, Emma Stroud

Creative Agency: AMV BBDO
CCO: Alex Grieve
ECDs: Nicholas Hulley, Nadja Lossgott
Creative Director: Martin Loraine
Creative Team: Martin Loraine & Steve Jones
Agency Planning Team: Joe Smith
Agency Account Team: Harry Buggé, Tom Shattock, Nick Andrew, Kenny Dada
Agency Producer: Rebecca Scharf
Media Agency: Wavemaker

Digital Design Company: AMV BBDO 
Digital & Social Art Director: Martin Loraine
Digital & Social Copywriter: Martin Loraine

Production Company: Academy
Director: Seb Edwards
Executive Producer: Simon Cooper
Production Co Producer: Ash Lockmun
D.O.P: Stephen Keith Roach
Editor: Tom Lindsay @ Trim

Post-production Company: MPC
Colourist: Jean-Clement Soret
Sound Recordist: Paul Sumpter @ Futz Butler
Audio Post-production: Mark Hills and Anthony Moore @ Factory

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