Broadcast PR - Markettiers

October 28, 2011


For the third year in a row, National Grid wanted to highlight the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and the importance of gas safety for the tens of thousands of students moving into private rented accommodation at the start of the university year.

The aim was to build on the hugely successful and ground-breaking campaigns we’d run with Alan Fletcher (aka Neighbours’ Dr Karl Kennedy) in 2009 and with the stand-up comedian, Greg Davies, in 2010.  For 2011 we decided to tap into the world of street magic – as it was enjoying a resurgence in ‘cool’ and popularity - to teach the notoriously hard to reach student audience “the tricks to living safely at university”.

We teamed up with professional illusionist, 25-year old Damien O’Brien, who was very keen to get involved as one of his close friends had almost succumbed to CO poisoning. 
Filming with Damien in a typically grotty student house, we produced a series of videos featuring magic tricks and tips on how to survive university life.

Our campaign once again centred around the National Grid’s Student Union Facebook page we’d created in 2009. The videos were uploaded regularly throughout October to maintain momentum, user engagement and interaction with the campaign. Students were encouraged to keep visiting the page across with each new content post and video upload, which they were able to comment on and share with their friends.

To maximise reach, impact, views of the video content and to engage with students beyond the fanbase built up from the 2009 and 2010 campaigns and maximise, we created a bespoke video sharing application which was deployed through Facebookand which engaged over 30,000 new users.   

To initially set up the campaign we’d researched students currently in private rented accommodation, discovering that three quarters didn’t have an audible CO alarm and almost half didn’t recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning.

On launch day to kick start driving students to the Facebook page, Damien joined National Grid’s Sarah Harris for a series of interviews with radio stations across the country. We also ran a series of online and radio competitions throughout the month, with all winners receiving a gas safety kit, including a CO alarm.

Damien also fronted a competition on the Facebook page to help make one lucky student’s rent disappear for a year.

The competition winner also took part in the campaign finale three weeks after the initial launch – the first ever live magic show on Facebook, a multi-camera live programme which we produced from our TV studio, featuring Damien performing a series of tricks, including an interactive trick with the online viewing audience via Skype.  

Over 200,000 students have so far viewed the videos from the campaigns with Damien, Greg Davies and Alan Fletcher.

In the immediate post-project research of students in rented accommodation, 98% rated the campaign with Damien as effective, 43% said they’d gained a better awareness of CO poisoning during the campaign period; 27% had checked their boiler for signs of CO poisoning and 21% had bought an audible CO alarm. 

“National Grid is delighted with the campaigns Markettiers have produced for us.  Each year they have come up with new, creative and imaginative campaigns to promote gas safety to a hard to reach audience such as students.” 
Stephanie van Rosse, National Grid

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