Young audiences are cynical, deeply cynical about official communication. A big issue when a local authority needs young people to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
During a critical time of lockdown measures easing, Norfolk County Council saw under 18’s were more likely than any other age group to be ignoring preventative measures – in part because they were more likely to be bored, frustrated and anxious – and in part because they simply did not trust the communicators or the language that they used.
But this ignorance of the guidelines stood in contrast to other things we knew about Gen-Z like their acutely developed sense of social consciousness and responsibility. Whilst it’s easy to write off teenagers as utterly self-absorbed, the truth is nobody wants to actively contribute to the spread of COVID.
We saw the issue was not the message – but the way it was delivered. Our opportunity was to massively disrupt expectations of official communication to get noticed, stop the scroll, and stop the spread.
Illustration. It is increasingly part of the fabric of youth culture, and resonant youth brands utilise the technique to create immediate impact and energy – but we seldom see it in official communication.
Two short films (one about handwashing, the other about social distancing), told simple stories of typical teens going about their day and unwittingly spreading the virus asymptomatically – visualising COVID as both a noxious cloud and dayglo dripping goop. Nice.
Using an aggressive, thrashy soundtrack to demand attention, the content was short and fast-paced, so quick you’d learnt something before you’d had a chance to skip it.
This also allowed for super-efficient use of paid social, geo- and demographically targeted across Facebook and Instagram.
A six-week campaign driving c.1 million impressions, with an average view-through rate of 69%, and an average view completion rate of 13% – smashing internal engagement benchmarks for communicating with young audiences.
Because of the success of illustration in terms of cut-through, the look and feel was then adopted by the client across all youth-oriented COVID communication both on and offline.