Inside the trespassing warning that’s helping keep kids off the train tracks
The campaign won in the Advertising, Creative, Disruption and Public Sector/Charity/Not-for-Profit categories at The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA 2023 and took home the Grand Prix.
Trespassing on the railway is a critical problem in the UK. To reduce the number of casualties caused by trespassing, Storycatchers worked with Network Rail, the British Transport Police, industry partners and the parents of Harrison Ballantyne to make a film telling the story of the 11-year-old who was killed by 25,000 volts of electricity at a rail freight depot.
The campaign had four main objectives: to increase awareness of the dangers of trespassing on the railway, to increase awareness of the consequences of trespassing, to reduce intent to trespass and, ultimately, to reduce trespass incidents. The highest-risk audience for trespassing is boys between the ages of 14 and 18.
To create a powerful campaign with a strong impact, the idea was to produce a film that made people truly understand the risk of trespassing. To make the film memorable, standard conventions of dramatic recreation were avoided. As younger audiences believe themselves to be invincible, the script repeatedly underlines the theme of unpredictability.
Harrison was used as the messenger as a peer-to-peer voice proves to be the most trustworthy and impactful in delivering a message to teenagers. Harrison’s death or the railway itself was not shown as this could be triggering.
To reach the highest-risk audience, the campaign was run in hotspot trespass areas, targeting media in 38 locations.
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The campaign film generated over 970,000 YouTube views and the campaign received an 11-minute segment on BBC Breakfast. Furthermore, 92,000 schoolchildren watched a live assembly from Harrison’s school.
A survey conducted on trespass revealed that the ad created a 10% uplift in understanding that stepping on train tracks risks electrocution. Of the previous trespassers who took part in the survey, two-thirds said they would change their behavior.
Harrison’s story is the most successful in the ‘You v Train’ trespass campaign series. It led to a 62% decrease in child trespass incidents in campaign target areas. Furthermore, it resulted in a 24% decrease in all trespass incidents in campaign target areas.