It is difficult to think of anything more depressing than knife crime, which accounted for 282 murders in England and Wales in the 12 months to March 2022 – 99 being men under 25; 13 of whom were aged under 16.
Enter a new campaign from The Ben Kinsella Trust – the charity named after the 16-year-old who was stabbed to death in June 2008 – which embraces machine learning to raise awareness of the devastating impact of knife crime on Mother’s Day.
Developed by M&C Saatchi London and Clear Channel UK, the poster campaign highlights the thoughts that go through a mother’s mind whenever she hears the sound of an ambulance siren. It is based on anxious messages and text exchanges between real mothers and their sons, imploring them to stay safe and not to carry a knife.
Last year, 315 people were admitted to hospital with knife-related injuries around Mother’s Day alone.
In what is claimed to be a world first, M&C worked with Clear Channel to develop a machine learning system which was trained to understand what an ambulance siren sounds like.
Every time an ambulance drives past, or is in close proximity, its siren triggers the technology installed to show powerful messages from mothers to their sons, making the connection between ambulances and the genuine worry mothers have when they hear one stronger and more powerful than ever before.
In addition to this AI-driven technology, the campaign also includes nearly 1,000 live digital billboards and Adshels across the UK. Some showcase the thoughts and fears of mothers, while others ask sons not to carry a knife this Mother’s Day. This is supported by organic social media activity.
This campaign is a follow up to M&C Saatchi and the Ben Kinsella Trust’s award-winning ‘Shout out to my son’ radio campaign which ran in 2019. The radio ads featured mothers making emotional pleas to their sons to stop carrying a knife.
Brooke Kinsella said: “It’s been 15 years since we lost Ben and the pain of his loss has never gone away. Nobody should ever have to receive a phone call telling them that their loved one has been involved in a knife-related incident.
“Our campaign highlights the unique bond that exists between young men and their mum. Using text messages from mothers making emotional pleas to their sons, this innovative campaign will reach young men and make them think about the impact their decisions will have on those they love, so they stay safe and don’t carry a knife.”
M&C Saatchi London creative partner Guy Bradbury added: “Much of the dialogue around knife crime is focused on those who are directly involved, or on the Government’s response. In this campaign we wanted to shine a light on its devastating impact on those who are left behind, handing over poster sites to the one person our audience might listen to: their mums.”
Clear Channel head of creative delivery Jonathan Acton concluded: “As soon as we heard about this amazing idea, we knew we had to build it. By using machine learning we have enabled the digital out-of-home bus shelters to adapt the creative to change when they ‘hear’ a siren. We’re using technology to bring this important campaign message to life in a dynamic way that has never been done before, to really engage passers-by.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
Well, anything that can raise awareness of this senseless epidemic and tackle knife crime can only be welcomed. And, with so much negativity surrounding the use of machine learning and AI, it is great to see the technology being used in this way.
There is little doubt advertising has a key role to play in this issue and, if this activity saves the life of just one person, it will be a success.
Decision Marketing Adometer: A ‘technology comes into its own’ 10 out of 10