Celebrating Cannes' First Grand Prix for Good

AMV BBDO Creatives Discuss Award-Winning Effort to Fight Knife Violence

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This year, the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival awarded the first Grand Prix for Good. The winner was "Choose a Different Ending," an anti-knife violence campaign for London's Metropolitan Police created by AMV BBDO, London.

Designed to reduce the incidence of knife crime, the campaign was created around a YouTube effort that allowed the target audience, 11-to15-year-old boys in London's inner city, to "choose a different ending." Each choice leads to a new video and different outcomes for street confrontations.

According to AMV BBDO, the campaign had the highest recall of any Metropolitan Police campaign, reaching 81% of its target audience. The YouTube channel got 1.79 million views during the campaign period and continued to grow afterward the effort ended. At its peak, it was drawing more than 80 comment posts each day.

Celebrating the win, AMV Creative Directors Steve Jones and Martin Lorraine here discuss the campaign, its effects on the community and where it's headed in the future.

GoodWorks: How does it feel to win the first Grand Prix for Good?

Mr. Lorraine: It's a massive thrill to win the first White Lion. [Cannes Juror] Rob Reilly told us afterward that it was a unanimous decision and, looking at the jury, that made us feel even better.

GoodWorks: Knife crimes aren't something you hear about in the U.S. What was the incidence of knife violence in London like?

Mr. Jones: Between April 2008 and February 2009, there were nearly 12,000 knife-related offenses in London, with 10 London teenagers stabbed to death just in 2009.

GoodWorks: What was it like working on this campaign?

Mr. Jones: Exciting and very challenging. For example, there was never a script. It began as a diagram, developed into dozens of Post-It Notes on a wall and then became a book with instructions such as "To stab him, turn to Page 22." Every time an element of the narrative changed, it affected every other element. We loved the possibilities that opened up, like having the paths overlap. You can choose to get in the car and go to the fight with the gang, but if you choose not to, you see the car passing on the way to the fight. We loved "work-shopping" the dialogue with the cast because we didn't want to hear a word of scripted, fake speech. And shooting 21 films in two days was great but scary.

GoodWorks: What kinds of ideas did you come up with before creating this one?

Mr. Lorraine: All our ideas were nontraditional or event-based because the people we were talking to are uninterested and even hostile to mainstream media. For example, we had a campaign about the inevitability of death for knife-carriers. The idea was to mourn people who were still alive with memorial marches and tribute sites on social networks. We had "Choose a Different Ending" very early and were immediately certain of it. Fortunately, the client was, too, as the schedule was extremely tight. We had a three-weeks production schedule.

GoodWorks: Are any more efforts planned to address this issue? Has there been a lasting effect?

Mr. Lorraine: We're into production on another Met campaign right now. We're in conversation with the same director and a young team on an exciting idea that could explore YouTube technology and social media in new ways.

Mr. Jones: As to effects, we can only measure engagement and awareness. In that context the campaign achieved 81% awareness and has had 2.84 million views so far, with an average user rating of 4.6 out of 5.

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