Behind the scenes: Our Live Fear Free campaign

We’ve produced a lot of behaviour change campaigns in recent years. We’ve asked people to think about organ donation and to reduce their carbon footprints. We’ve persuaded high-risk drivers to drive more safely and smokers to kick the habit, and warned borrowers to avoid loan sharks.

But at around this time a couple of years ago, just as everyone was starting to feel full of the festive spirit, we were immersing ourselves in the alarmingly prevalent world of domestic abuse following a brief from the Welsh Government.

The facts made for grim reading. 25% of women and 16% of men in Wales and England will experience some form of domestic abuse at some point in their lives. And there were over 1.8 million cases of abuse reported in 2013. And that’s just the reported ones.

The Welsh Government wanted to help us recognise if someone we know has a controlling partner and to get advice how to help them. We all know someone who argues with their partner. Or seems a bit ‘nagged’. Or goes home early on a night out. Or doesn’t go out at all. Or puts themselves down. Or drinks too much or eats too little. And – most of the time – it’s just their personality.

Or is it?

There’s a fine line between ‘normal’ behaviour and controlling behaviour. And controlling behaviour is often a sign of domestic abuse.

So this got us thinking. Do you know where the line is? Can you see the point at which banter becomes abuse? Or the difference between checking someone is okay and checking up on them?

The #whereistheline campaign tackled this dilemma head-on. We wanted the public to recognise the signs of controlling behaviour, consider where the line is, get advice on what to do about it and drive the debate – we’d love to hear your thoughts too.

We produced two online films featuring two scenarios. ‘Banter’ features a couple, on the face of it, out for a quiet drink, but which has a different complexion as we listen in on their conversation. ‘Phone’ opens on two young friends meeting up for dinner but ends with one of them leaving following texts and calls from her boyfriend.

To really engage with our audience, we wanted to put the viewer into the moment. So, both films don’t just present the signs of abuse, but also ask the viewer to click when they think the line has been crossed. Their click delivers statistics based on where other viewers have clicked and encourages the viewer to share their thoughts and the statistics on social media. A TV and social media campaign drove viewers to the Welsh Government’s Live Fear Free website, to view and interact with the online films.

These films don’t make for comfortable viewing and were brought to life by director Dave Tynan and a cast who deliver heart- and gut-wrenching performances.

The pain of the situations playing out are obvious on the faces of our cast and the gasps, groans and tears behind the scenes were audible. In fact, actress Hanna Morgan who played the supportive friend Bethan in ‘Phone’ was brave enough to admit that she had experienced controlling behaviour herself when she was just 18. And given the statistics, chances are there were a few more on set that this struck a particular chord with. Click on the video above to take a look behind the scenes and see what some of the actors had to say.

The campaign went live on 16th March 2014 and can be seen here.

Looking back, and this is still a piece of work we’re very proud of. Our films were engaged with more than 13,000 times in total, and resulted in a 9% increase in Twitter followers and a 17% increase in Facebook likes for Live Fear Free in just three weeks. The work also picked up two CIPR Pride Awards for Best Integrated Campaign and Best Use of Digital. Chris Green, the Director of the United Nations Leaders of Men Group, said that our campaign made him “ask questions about [his] own actions everyday which continue to reinforce the culture which condones the violence and emotional abuse which underpins the physical violence”.

Rich Daughton & Dave Abbott, Creative Heads