Drug addiction impacts an entire city – from increasing crime and health problems to ruining lives and devastating families. But for young people in Cape Town there is hope: The City of Cape Town’s (CoCT’s) highly successful free rehabilitation programme.  The CoCT had one great challenge, however: its programme severely lacked awareness.

The Challenge

Young people struggling with drug addiction are often too scared to ask for help, because of fear of separation from family and friends or even criminalisation. Also, recovery often seems impossible so making the process seem achievable (without pretending it was easy) was critical to the campaign’s success. Most anti-drug campaigns are generic and do not resonate with a young audience. Our approach had to be personal to humanise the recovery process. To create authenticity, we needed a real person to bring to life the character of Someone in Cape Town whose journey could inspire others.

The Idea

We launched an integrated, digitally-focussed and influencer-driven campaign, documenting the inspiring personal journey of an anonymous young man – dubbed Someone in Cape Town – who successfully recovered from drug addiction through the CoCT’s rehabilitation programme.

The Solution

Someone’s story was told through an integrated, multi-channel approach to ensure maximum reach, engagement and impact: Facebook: A dedicated Facebook page to share Someone’s personal recovery process. The true story of a successfully recovered addict was recreated using actors to protect the identities of everyone involved. The back-story was told by pre-populating his timeline with five years worth of posts from his 15th birthday to finishing high school and moving into digs with a drug dealer – where he became an addict. The live portion started on his first day of rehab and told the story of the day-by-day reality of the recovery process, starting with a phone call to the helpline, to the first hard days, to the first faint glimmers of hope and finally leaving the first stage of the programme clean and hopeful for the future. The story unfolded through a series of, at times, painfully honest posts, as though to follow a close friend sharing their personal journey. Media spend ensured maximum reach for key pieces of content. YouTube: Six video diaries. Raw, face-to-camera approach added deeply personal grit. Media spend behind the videos ensured target audience exposure to the content while searching and watching other videos. Tumblr: 11 longer blog-style posts. Earned media relations: Proactive and highly targeted earned media and blogger relations further amplified the campaign and highlighted critical education messages while directing audiences to online campaign channels. Interviews across key broadcast, print and online media channels with Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille, a counsellor and brave young female teen who had successfully recovered through the City-run programme. Paid media relations: Live Magazine, MiCampus and 2OceansVibe. Influencer engagement (earned): 13 influencers.

The Results

We encouraged more young Capetonians struggling with drug addiction to reach out for help through the City run rehabilitation programme. Result: 269% increase in calls to the substance abuse helpline during the six-week campaign period We drove broad regional awareness for the City’s drug rehabilitation programme. Results: 9.7-million impressions across traditional and social media  90% of editorial coverage appeared in high-reach, on-target media channels. R500 000 worth in editorial exposure (AVE1:1). 13 x positive earned influencer shares on social media We educated 16-25-year-olds about the recovery process. Results: 76% of editorial coverage carried pre-agreed key messages in media targeting a younger audience. 60% of editorial coverage included campaign spokespeople (quote/ interview), commenting on assistance available. 8 x in-depth content pieces created and published by paid media partners: LiveMag, MiCampus, 2OceansVibe. 1 x round table discussion hosted by paid media partner, LiveMag. 204 988 video views We drove content engagement across dedicated online campaign channels. Results: 605 596 engagements on social media channels. 100% positive sentiment across all editorial coverage and earned influencer engagement. 99% positive sentiment across all social media conversation

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