the context

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity takes place this week. While most of us can’t be on the French Riviera, we can learn from how insight has been used in previous Cannes-winning work. Resultantly, June’s ‘Insights in Action’ reflects on Lad Bible’s 2018 ‘Trash Isles’ campaign. This won the PR & Design categories at Cannes in 2018.

Lad Bible, founded in 2012, is an online publishing platform designed to appeal to youth audiences. It was initially seen as a Facebook page that filled the gap once occupied by ‘lads mags’. However, in 2016 Lad Bible began a turnaround under marketing director Mimi Turner. Turner wanted to increase the quality of Lad Bible’s content and give it a more meaningful and mature existence.

the insight

Turner’s first insight was that Lad Bible’s audience was 40% female. Lad Bible then used its vast Instagram following to identify mental health, the environment and politics as hot topic areas. These topic areas aligned well vs. the desire to give Lad Bible a more mature identity.

In 2017, Lad Bible ran the acclaimed ‘U OK M8’ campaign on mental health. The campaign reached 36mn people. Furthermore, it gave Lad Bible credibility in the ‘social good’ space. Next on Lad Bible’s campaign agenda was the environment. Three insights were core to Lad Bible’s environment-focussed campaign:

  • Despite its legacy perceptions, Lad Bible’s audience cared about the environment
  • 18-34-year olds cared more vs. busier 35+ year olds
  • A plastic mass the size of France had formed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii

the insight activation

In collaboration with Plastic Oceans Foundation, Lad Bible petitioned to the United Nations to have the plastic mass in the Pacific Ocean recognised as a country called ‘Trash Isles’. If Trash Isles was recognised as a country, other countries would have to help clear it up. But there was a problem. To be recognised as a country, Trash Isles needed citizens (Lad Bible had already designed a flag, passport and currency!). To attract citizens Lad Bible and AMV BBDO created a video starring Ross Kemp asking people to become citizens of Trash Isle. A fully integrated campaign followed. This included 10 videos and 12 written articles, all shared via Lad Bible’s platforms and channels. Additionally, Lad Bible also used its young members as ambassadors to help relate to its key demographic.

the impact

The campaign attracted influential support from around the world. Trash Isle’s first citizen was politician Al Gore, actress Dame Judi Dench was its Queen and wrestler John Cena was the Defence Minister. Within a week, 100K people signed the petition to become Trash Isles citizens. Shortly afterwards, Trash Isles became the world’s 26th smallest country.

The campaign’s videos received 37mn+ views, the written articles have reached 18mn people with an overall campaign reach of 250mn people. Consequently, the UN hailed the campaign for being  ‘creative and innovative’ .

the learnings

‘Trash Isles’ has several learnings for insight and marketing practitioners:

  1. Use existing resources: fundamentally, Lad Bible is a membership organisation. By using existing resources – it’s members and Instagram – Lad Bible unearthed insights which drove a dramatic repositioning: from drunken males throwing fast-food litter away, to males & females clearing global mess up
  • Continually learn about your audience: Mimi Turner helped bring attention to Lad Bible’s female audience and the entire audience’s perception of more sensitive societal issues
  • Insight isn’t just insight: it’s campaign collateral too. Yes, the ‘Trash Isles’ content is light-hearted. However, much of the content also contains data. This gives the campaign credibility in a complicated area

There’s also a more profound learning. Insight and creativity combined are powerful. Trash Isles highlights what the two combined can achieve: moving Lad Bible’s perception from being a digitised equivalent of Loaded, labelled as a misogynistic male to being creator of a nation, hailed as an innovative environmentalist.

This post was originally published on Research World 

By Jack Miles, Senior Research Director

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