Best practice from Digital Marmalade.
Through his work with Richard Taylor, Gary Trowsdale, managing director at the Damilola Taylor Trust recognised that a vast majority of young people were receiving unfair press and in danger of being demonised. As a result he decided to create a London-based awards programme to recognise and reward young people for tremendous achievements in the community.
Trowsdale and Taylor wanted to establish an awards programme as a credible brand for young children, approved and supported by all thirty-three London boroughs and the Home Office.
The awards - later named the Spirit of London Awards - needed to create a positive platform to promote young people during a time of recession and steal some of the headlines away from those youngsters receiving bad publicity. The awards ceremony would take place on the ninth anniversary of Damilola’s death on 27 November 2009.
Trowsdale realised the importance of using digital strategies as the backbone for any new launch and needed to partner with a company that he trusted 100 per cent. Having reviewed his options, Gary decided to work with web design and multimedia agency Digital Marmalade whom he had worked with previously on the FA Premier League Hall of Fame and various other projects
“I like the layman’s logic that Digital Marmalade applies to the mapping out of website and digital platform designs,” explains Trowsdale. “I firmly believed that the team could provide substantial value to our development of the youth and anti-crime messaging and was impressed with their ideas on how to broaden the debate and engage the community at large.”
Trowsdale was aiming to create an awards programme that would become the benchmark for others looking to develop similar projects to celebrate the achievements of young people. To achieve this, the Digital Marmalade team had to ensure that the branding communicated with the target audience.
It needed to be urban and appropriately themed to attract and embrace young people from across London. It needed to create a positive platform to promote young people in time of recession and economic melt-down, where a minority hog the headlines and steal the media column inches. Ultimately, the aim of the awards was to launch the community Oscars for young people and improve how they are perceived by the whole community.
Digital Marmalade took all of these factors into consideration when the team first started to develop the brand, logo, name and website for the awards. The team decided against going down the stereotypical route of using graffiti style font and imagery, instead creating an iconic London design based on the Underground which was designed with stencils.
The finished result was a brand identity that young people considered fashionable but was appropriate enough to be passed through local government as a youth project.
“We wanted the look and feel of the whole campaign to tell a story and establish the Awards as a credible venture. Iconic and memorable images of London formed the backdrop of the campaign, to help convey the passion and pride of everyone associated with the project,” comments Tony Brennand, digital executive producer of the Awards and director at Digital Marmalade.
The team also developed the name which was to be called the “Spirit of London Awards”. Once the brand and name were approved, the Digital Marmalade team set about creating the website which would be the main digital platform for the project and where all nominations would be processed.
Digital Marmalade also ensured that details of all the celebrity judges and their credentials were displayed on the website. The make-up and promotion of the judging panel was an important element of the project and needed to encompass a mixture of celebrities and Government officials to give it the right balance of credibility and glamour to resonate with young people. In addition, the website featured an official countdown to the event to further generate anticipation ahead of the ceremony.
Following an initial announcement of the awards at Southwark cathedral on the eighth anniversary of Damilola Taylor’s death in 2008, the team recognised the importance of using the digital route to publicise the event and generate nominations on the website.
To achieve this Digital Marmalade pushed the messaging through a social networking campaign, by creating a buzz on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Bebo, the largest social media platform for young children.
More than 4,500 young people joined a Spirit of London Awards group on Facebook and over 3,000 kids were engaged in the awards programme in a group on Bebo, where a competition was run to meet pop band JLS which attracted thousands of young people to the group and website.
By embracing the ethos of social media, Digital Marmalade encouraged young people to create their own digital campaigns to get nominated, as it knew this would create further buzz and promotion of the brand in the run-up to the event.
To be nominated for an award, visitors to the website were encouraged to create video submissions, using YouTube, and upload them onto a designated private channel. This allowed judges to log onto YouTube from anywhere in the UK, view the submissions and select the nominees.
The team also co-ordinated tremendous support from other mediums such as The Sun newspaper, Choice FM and all the London Boroughs. The Spirit of London Awards brand also featured on an accompanying charity single, sung by Robbie Craig and the ACM Gospel Choir.
The website received over 3,500 nominations in total for nine award categories which included Young Hero, Achievement Through Sport and Positive Role Model of the Year.
“We achieved tremendous support from young people who visited the website – they loved its look and feel and the whole brand generated excitement across the London boroughs,” says Gary Trowsdale, managing director, Damilola Taylor Trust.
“We wanted to create an event that made the young people who attended say it was the best night of their lives and echo this sentiment in their local communities. This was exactly the kind of reaction we received from all twenty-three short-listed nominees.”
He added, “All nominees were treated as winners with a visit to 10 Downing Street and a limousine picking them up on the night, before being treated to the full red carpet experience.”
Following a successful first year for the awards programme the team is already looking ahead to future ceremonies. The team plan to evolve the website by adding more content and interactive features to maintain young people’s interest and will continue to digitally push the positive message and goodwill of these awards.
“By 2012 we will have the biggest, most inclusive awards programme in the country with the largest awards show in London, second only to the Olympic ceremony. This will be supported by extensive media coverage, satellite shows around the country and Digital Marmalade’s continued push across all digital channels,” concludes Trowsdale.
See a promotional video from the awards campaign below.
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