After the UK voted to leave the European Union, there was an unprecedented rise in hate crimes, particularly racial and religiously aggravated attacks. The Polish community also suffered several high profile attacks. The Polish Cultural Institute, a London-based organisation dedicated to promoting and nurturing cultural ties between the UK and Poland, engaged APCO International to create a campaign that engaged politicians, created a coalition of faith groups, raised awareness of the issue and reached those most likely to commit hate crimes.
The agency needed to create a campaign that appealed to all target audiences and resonated with both sides of the Referendum. It also had to identify, segment and understand the audience most likely to commit hate crime: white British males under 35 of low socioeconomic status. The strategic concept, #BetterThanThat, tapped into patriotic feelings across the spectrum, but also suggested that the UK was ‘better than’ the incidences of hate crime might suggest. Focus groups revealed this resonated with all audiences.
A suite of creative assets were designed, including an eye-catching logo, video, social media graphics, online adverts and posters and banners for the launch at the Houses of Parliament. On the day of the campaign’s launch, The Sun carried an interview with Carl Froch, the former world super-middleweight champion, who shared his disgust at a rival making fun of his Polish heritage ahead of a match. It was an important element of the campaign because The Sun, which is one of the most negative voices on immigration, is the most read publication among the audience most likely to commit hate crime. The paper also carried interviews with victims of racially motivated crimes.
Having secured the endorsement of Prime Minister Theresa May and other Government ministers, #BetterThanThat launched at the Houses of Parliament, where the audience heard a mix of speeches and real-life stories from the Polish Culture Institute and other communities about the impact of a rise in hate crime. Many MPs, including Labour politician Chuka Umunna, who has more than 174,000 followers, shared the hashtag and videos from the campaign on their social media accounts.
More than 20 different non-governmental organisations and faith groups, including Union of Jewish Students and Al-Khoei Foundation, backed the campaign, offering support and spreading the message across their social media channels and in local communities. The launch was covered by multiple media outlets, including The Guardian, The Times and the Independent. The articles were promoted on social media, while targeted online advertising also raised awareness. The campaign hashtag trended as the fourth most popular topic nationwide, after #ChristmasJumperTime and #AdventCalendar, and reached more than 20 million people on the platform.
More than 2.5 million people were reached by the campaign’s Facebook page, where the most active age group was 18 to 34. Three in four of the page’s fans were male, as well as 82 per cent of those who interacted with the content.