How the British Red Cross is Using YouTube to Save Teenage Lives [Case Study]

When the British Red Cross wanted to reach out to teenagers about first aid, and the danger of self-harm, they teamed up with some of YouTube’s biggest British stars to get the message across. The campaign to educate young people to help themselves, or their friends who self-harmed, was launched after figures revealed the number of people self-poisoning in the UK had soared by more than 40% in 10 years. The Red Cross reached out to YouTube MCN ChannelFlip to create a a resource that would “equip 13-18 year olds with vital life saving skills and the confidence to use them”, and bring basic first aid into the 21st Century. The award-winning campaign attracted over 7.5 million views within the target demographic, and generated over 50,000+ comments from engaged viewers. 90% of those surveyed after watching the 7 videos said they felt much more confident to help someone after watching them.

The Video Campaign Brief: Make First Aid Relevant

Around 1 in 12 young people in the UK are thought to self-harm in some way in their lives, with over 110,000 cases reported at Accident & Emergency departments across the UK last year. 42% of young people polled by the British Red Cross said they or someone they knew had self-harmed, and 80% also confirmed that they wanted to know what first aid they could administer to help someone in need. 

The Red Cross wanted to re-invent first aid for young people, making it relevant to their everyday lives, and engaging enough that they’ll help others in an emergency. They approached ChannelFlip to help create a serious of first aid videos with a twist:

Paul Donnelly, head of campaigns at the British Red Cross, said:

It’s important to us reach young people with the advice that they need. Our research showed that 3 in 4 young people wouldn’t know where to turn to get advice, and also many adults find the topic intimidating. We hope that people will share the first aid advice and feel more confident about talking about this issue.

YouTube Collaborations: Using Familiar Faces to Reach the Audience

ChannelFlip and the British Red Cross created seven original YouTube Creator social videos, with one more still to come – a gaming inspired ‘Seizures’ sketch, with AliA. They teamed up with UK based YouTubers SprinkleofGlitter, KickthePJ, Danisnotonfire, MarcusButler, PointlessBlogTV, TomSka and AmazingPhil to create instructional videos based on different scenarios such as self-harm, choking, and passing out through the consumption of too much alcohol. A Facebook page was also launched, alongside with a dedicated section on the Red Cross website. red cross video campaign

Campaign Results:

The main goal of the campaign was to increase the willingness among teenagers and young people to learn first aid, and give them the confidence to do so. A poll of those who watched the videos from PJ, Dan, Marcus and Louise (SprinkleofGlitter) showed how those videos had impacted on them in terms of confidence and willingness:

impact of social video british red cross

The results were amazing with phenomenal shifts in confidence and willingness, with the British Red Cross reporting increased levels of viewers participated in the learning of first aid techniques. In terms of clarity of message, Louise’s video came in at the highest at 99%. In terms of confidence, all the films have achieved significant shifts, but again Louise is the highest with an incredible 65% shift in confidence.

red cross viewer engagement

Willingness was already generally high across the board. The charity asked selected viewers what they would do in the event of a particular situation e.g. unconscious and breathing as a result of drinking etc. Again Louise won with 50% giving the perfect first aid answer – ask what, when and how much + call 999. Over 90% gave 2 or more elements of first aid. PJ’s unconscious and breathing answer was a close second with 45% giving a perfect response.

The charity also ran a test of pre-roll and TrueView advertising to drive people to the content.The ads were targeted towards segmented groups, to minimize budget wastage, and the campaign generated over 1,400,000 ad impressions with a pre-roll CTR of 6%.

James E. Marks, Video Entertainment Specialist at ChannelFlip said of the campaign:

The ‘Life, Live It’ Everyday First Aid project has been an amazing collaborative creative journey to have been on with the British Red Cross. We had a vision to Edutain the highly engaged YouTube youth audience, by investing in the natural born talents of ChannelFlip’s top YouTube creators. An original social video for social good campaign that challenges the old school media world, continues to organically help save lives and rocked the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, a genuine Zietgiest moment marketing strategy.

Let’s take a look at each of the campaign videos:

Self Harm: Sprinkleofglitter

Louise Pentland has been active on YouTube since 2010 as SprinkleofGlitter and her channel has 1,262,240 subscribers and 46,667,431 views (at time of writing). She chose to vlog and blog about self-harm. The video itself was featured on a number of news outlets and was one of the major successes of the campaign in terms of viewer engagement.

Pushover: KickthePJ

PJ Liguori was named one of The Guardians ‘The top 30 young people in digital media‘ in March 2014, and his video project was a collaboration with Danisnotonfire which focused on helping someone when they’ve had far too much to drink. The video has been a phenomenal success and has garnered a fantastic amount of publicity, including being played on the main stage at Glastonbury just before the Rolling Stones set. kickthepj glastonbury

The instructional video is now being used in UK schools as a first aid resource. PJ gave us the following quote:

It’s been a fantastic experience being a part of the British Red Cross campaign. I’m incredibly proud that my most viewed video is something that can teach and help others. It’s reached over a million people online and many more when it was played at Glastonbury festival this year just gone.

Christmas Disaster: Danisnotonfire

Bungee Jump Disaster: Marcus Butler

Bungee Jump Fail: PointlessBlogTv

Stabbed: TomSka

Fireworks: Amazing Phil