Background: YouthNet is a not-for-profit online youth charity. It was created by the broadcaster Martyn Lewis in 1994 to help 16 to 24 year olds find quality, factual advice about subjects ranging from drugs, sex, careers and relationships.
Aims of the appeal: YouthNet needed a cost-effective way to drive traffic to its flagship web site, TheSite.org. Digital Outlook was hired in June 2001 to promote the web site, and specifically to drive the user base up by 500 per cent over 12 months. The agency conceived a viral campaign that would appeal to the core audience of 16 to 24 year olds and which could be used over a sustained period of time.
How it worked: Digital Outlook created a concept of a man who takes a particular drug and then reacts differently according to the substance taken. The actions are intended to amuse, engage and inform the audience, not to promote drugs, and visitors to the site are encouraged to forward the page to friends via email.
Creative AtticMedia created three different applications. In one, the man takes LSD and the whole desktop of the users computer goes wild, with things like the Windows start button turning into a man and moving across the screen, ducks are fired across the screen and several odd noises are generated. When the man drinks alcohol, all the icons on the desktop become blurred and the whole desktop is turned upside down.
The third animation shows the man on ecstasy. He comes onto the screen, takes a pill, then asks the user to put some "choons
on. The CD-Rom tray flies out then in again, and the man plays music, and the whole screen vibrates in rhythm to the beat.
At the end of each action, TheSite.org logo and strapline appears, and the homepage of TheSite.org is presented so the user can find out more information about drugs.
Marketing for the site was conducted over four weeks and targeted at opinion formers and online communities. Digital Outlook staff also used "guerrilla
tactics by entering specific chatrooms, particularly clubbing communities, and instigating discussions about the campaign.
Results: Since the launch of the campaign in March, there have been more than three million runs of the three applications combined over 10 weeks.
TheSite.org has increased its weekly unique monthly users from around 40,000 in June 2001 to more than one million in April 2002.
"Digital Outlook's highly targeted and creative campaigns have been invaluable,
says Jamie Thomas, marketing director of YouthNet. "We've been able to achieve outstanding results within a very realistic budget."