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Vodafone ‘Cut it Out’ Anti Bullying PR Campaign

Vodafone ‘Cut it Out’ Anti Bullying PR Campaign

Best practice from Threepipe.


One of Vodafone’s key corporate responsibility targets is to help reduce bullying by mobile phone, an increasing trend amongst young people who victimise others through text and video messaging.

An estimated 450,000 young people are victims of bullying in the UK each year and the key aim was to educate young people about the negative impact of bullying and to provide practical advice to those being bullied. Teachers and parents were also key audiences for their role in spotting incidents of bullying and providing support.

Vodafone tasked Threepipe to create an awareness and fundraising campaign to coincide with the Government backed Anti Bullying Week in November 2008.


Research shows that girls (aged 10 -16 years) are far greater users of phones for bullying than boys, who tend to resort to more physical intimidation.

The campaign needed to creatively ‘stand out’ to engage teenage girls and parents via mass consumer media whilst at the same time delivering serious messages about the consequences of bullying.

A more formal educational programme would also be needed to encourage teacher participation.

Campaign partnerships

Threepipe approached Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and The Really Useful Group, to set up a collaboration with the hit West End musical ‘Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’.

The musical has been extremely popular within UK schools and wider general public for over 20 years and the show’s leading star Lee Mead enjoys a high media profile and the following of millions of teenage girls and their mums!

The show features a bullying storyline, as Joseph is bullied by his brothers who are jealous of the technicolour coat given to him by his father, providing a strong connection to the issue.

Lee Mead had also previously acknowledged that he had been bullied while at school and was keen to become the campaign ambassador.

School children were given a unique opportunity to design seven brand new technicolour dreamcoats, which would be worn on stage by Lee Mead during Anti Bullying Week (the first time that the musical had ever worked in such a partnership and changed the format of the show).

Children were encouraged to design coats featuring symbols, slogans, imagery and materials to reflect how they feel about bullying.

Threepipe also worked in partnership with leading anti bullying charity, Beatbullying, to create a campaign website which provided useful online resources for anyone with concerns about bullying, plus competition entry details and news updates throughout the campaign.

The site also contained a schools pack for teachers to encourage entry into the Vodafone competition as part of classroom activity.

Campaign Launch (September 2008)

The campaign launched in September 2008, coinciding with the back to school period, with a series of national radio and print media interviews with Lee Mead, during which he talked openly for the first time about being bullied at school.

An email newsletter was sent to Beatbullying’s database of 3,000 schools with a link to the downloadable schools resource pack. This activity was supported by a media relations campaign into educational media.

Ticket competitions to see the shows were placed in national and teenage girls media to promote the campaign. Links to the campaign website were promoted via and the mobile portal Vodafone Live!

Threepipe meanwhile worked with both the Mirror and ITN News to arrange a series of exclusive editorial opportunities to coincide with the launch of Anti Bullying Week. The Mirror and ITN were given access, via the charity, to children being bullied as well as to parents whose children had committed suicide because of bullying.

This was extremely sensitive as none of the parents had spoken to the media before, but provided a powerful message about the seriousness of bullying.

The Competition

Some 2,000 individual entries were submitted in the four weeks that the competition was open. These were shortlisted into seven regional winners by a judging panel of Lee Mead, Beatbullying and Vodafone.

The chosen designs were handed over to students at the London College of Fashion to be turned into real dreamcoats to be worn on stage!

Regional PR was carried out around the seven winning designers and the winning coat designs were given to leading teenage magazine, Bliss, which asked its readers to vote for their favourite overall coat design.

The coat with the most votes was designed by four 13 year old girls from St Louis School, Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Their coat reflected their personal feelings about bullying caused by religious divide and was worn by Lee on the first day of Anti Bullying Week.

Anti Bullying Week (17th-21st November)

Threepipe organised a VIP event for the first Joseph performance of the week, attended by Government, charities and key media, allowing Vodafone to formally launch its Anti Bullying Week campaign. Lee wore all seven winning coats on stage during the week, making a speech about the campaign at the end of each show.

Campaign Results

Response to the competition was phenomenal. In addition to the 2,000 competition entries, an astounding 40,000 teenagers registered their individual details to vote for their favourite coats on the Bliss website, within just one week.

The Mirror ran a double page spread for three consecutive days during Anti Bullying Week, writing about the campaign and featuring interviews with Lee and parents and children who had suffered bullying.

Lee also appeared live on the GMTV sofa to talk about the campaign and to reveal the winning coat.

Some 91,000 theatre goers saw the show during the week and were all provided with Vodafone branded information about the campaign.

Charity collections were taken at the end of each performance and the seven winning coats were auctioned on eBay to raise funds for Beatbullying.

In total, the campaign delivered over seventy pieces of editorial coverage including twelve national print and broadcast hits.

An advertising value of £353,000 was achieved and delivered a campaign ROI of 5:1. All items of coverage mentioned Vodafone and Beatbullying. Over £20,000 was raised for the Beatbullying charity which will fund school workshops in 2009.

See highlights of natioanl Tv coverage by playing the video below.

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