The Quilliam Foundation and Verbalisation win Silver at the DMA’s for Best Public Sector Campaign.
The Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism thinktank, set out to try to stem the increasing number of young UK Muslim men and women being radicalised by ISIL – largely through ISIL’s massively-funded and incredibly effective social media presence.
Analysts identified that the target audience should not just be those considering going to Syria themselves, but also those who offered tacit support to ISIL’s aims – such as disseminating its propaganda – without realising the potentially fatal effect it could have, often on those closest to them.
The result was the most viewed counter-extremism campaign ever, with a global reach of over half a billion people.
Analysis showed a Trojan horse strategy would be most effective – mimicking ISIL’s own tactics of disseminating film on social media.
But Quilliam were seen as ‘anti-Islam’ in some parts of the Muslim community, so the film was unbranded and launched via a single YouTube page and a deliberately lo-fi WordPress page. The hashtag #notanotherbrother deliberately echoed how ISIL launch their films, creating a buzz within the ‘jihadist fanboy’ community to ensure it was watched.
The film was seeded within key networks in the Muslim community via Twitter (including tweets in Arabic) to start ground-level discussion before Quilliam’s involvement was revealed. PR activity and postcards supported social media teasers and Twitter activity that linked news stories about ISIL to the film using #notanotherbrother.
The film took ISIL’s high production values, central ‘hero’ and sense of becoming part of a ‘band of brothers’ and created a devastating counter-narrative that showed the true costs of disseminating ISIL propaganda. The storyline was powerfully simple: no matter how much disseminating ISIL’s propaganda might make you feel you’re part of an Islamist ‘brotherhood’, that reward is nothing compared with the cost of losing an actual brother as a result.
The script presented a letter from a man apologising to his younger brother for setting him on the path to extremism, while the viewer saw the real fate of a jihadist: no heroics, just a grim, lonely death, far away from your loved ones.
Around the film, an integrated campaign was held together by #notanotherbrother – a rallying cry to encourage people to draw a line in the sand: no more brothers lost to ISIL, literal or figurative.
The campaign achieved a total reach of over half a billion people. In short, it succeeded in creating a colossal anti-ISIL presence where it had been seen as ‘winning the social media war.’
To date, the film has received nearly 30 million twitter impressions globally and 66,000 views on YouTube by people from 192 countries; all from a £12,000 production budget.
Quilliam received a request from the United Nations to use the film as part of its global UNESCO work with children, while it was shared online by the U.S. State Department. Multiple schools have also used it.
While it’s too early to estimate its effect on potential jihadists, one former extremist emailed Quilliam and wrote “The slogan at the end of #notanotherbrother made me cry. It made me realise that my words had turned our brothers into weapons.”
Damon Webb, Drew Charsley, Frazer Howard, Jenni Hollis, David Stanhope, Tom Wein, Ben Felton, Jonathan Russell, Sven Hughes, Charlie Winter, Oscar Saunders
Borkowski.do – PR
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