Crimestoppers was very good at developing often award winning creative that spoke to the wrong people: ‘curtain twitchers’, who only knew crimes were happening not who was committing them. What they did less well was connect with those in the know: kids on the periphery of criminality who could tell them what was really going down…but who might look up to the criminals too much to say anything. Particularly to an organisation sponsored by the Metropolitan Police.
No matter how cool someone might think they are, the best way to undermine their credibility in the eyes of others is to laugh at them.
Collecting Criminals was a ‘collector card’ inspired idea, designed to puncture the status of criminals, presenting them as figures of fun not worthy of respect. Using an approach we termed ‘Urban Discovery’, Collecting Criminals cards were placed directly into the world of the kids we wanted to reach – as magnets on the cars they used as social meeting points, in ‘nick me’ wallets dropped on the street, placed into the pockets of items in clothes shops and more. In a significant step, we also persuaded Crimestoppers’ funders, the Metropolitan Police, to remove their logo from campaign materials, to reinforce the point that this was an independent, anonymous service.
Though only a small scale campaign, in the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Brent, call numbers increased by over 50% during the campaign period, and a number of significant but previously intractable crimes were solved including two murders.