A Divided Country
A 41 percent rise in hate crime was reported in the United Kingdom in the aftermath of the referendum vote on leaving the European Union. Many of these incidents targeted members of the Polish community, but there was also a sharp rise reported in hate crime against British Muslims, Jews and UK residents of other faiths and nationalities.
A Unifying Message
In response, APCO was engaged by the Polish Cultural Institute to create and execute a national awareness campaign about the rise in hate crime and to demonstrate that the behavior should not be tolerated in the UK. Research on hate crime statistics revealed that many of these crimes were perpetrated by young, white British males from lower socio-economic backgrounds. APCO Insight, our opinion research group, conducted focus groups to ensure all elements of the campaign would resonate with this target demographic, in addition to the political and community leaders needed to support the initiative.
Demonstrating that Britain is #BetterThanThat
Our message that Britain was #BetterThanThat transcended Brexit disagreements and appealed to patriotic feelings among people of all political persuasions. We launched the campaign with an event at the House of Commons supported by Prime Minister Theresa May, cabinet members, MPs from all three main parties and by a coalition we built of more than 20 non-governmental organisations representing a wide range of minority communities impacted by hate crime. We secured a celebrity endorsement from the former world champion boxer, Carl Froch, who is of Polish extraction and was happy to speak to the media about his personal experiences dealing with discrimination earlier in his career.
The launch was covered across UK top tier media outlets including: a double page spread in The Sun on Sunday and in The Daily Mirror, The Times, The Guardian and on the BBC. We produced videos that generated more than 560,000 views and our comprehensive social media campaign reached 22.9 million people.
The campaign also helped to shift the tone and rhetoric among some of the most widely-read tabloid newspapers in the UK when covering stories about European groups residing in the UK. Most importantly, while the government hasn’t yet released official hate crime statistics for the period after we ran this campaign, anecdotal reports suggest that the situation on the streets of the UK is much improved.