Research conducted by Northern Gas Networks identified that a hard-hitting campaign was needed to raise awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning among the high risk student population (18-24 year olds). The organisation (launch supported by National Grid) worked in partnership with Words&Pictures to deliver a multi-platform iPhone and Android smartphone app to be launched, initially, at universities across the north of England.
Once installed, the iCop app plays a short animation setting the scene for a deathly discovery. Users become detectives and their role in the game is to uncover the cause of death in a student bedsit — carbon monoxide.
This project was an important issue-based campaign that required an engaging and innovative approach to message delivery. Words&Pictures has a specialist team that provides educational expertise to commercial clients for specific issue-based campaigns. The target audience was engaged throughout the process, consulting on initial concepting, on-going user-testing and post-launch focus groups that were held in universities across the north.
Within a few days of launching, iCop was downloaded by more than 1,200 people and NGN were delighted with how many requests they were receiving for CO alarms from iCop users. The app now has over 20,000 downloads (November 2013) and the campaign also won praise from industry regulators, CO awareness groups and universities.
The launch was supported by a Facebook competition campaign and hard-hitting viral flash mob which has hundreds of students sharing, liking and commenting.
All universities received a promotional pack including posters, flyers and edited films to be shown on TV screens in student areas.
A national roll-out, supported by CO charities and National Grid, is currently underway (2014). NGN are confident that this intervention will, over time, be fundamental in reducing CO-related incidents and fatalities among young people.