We have a new website go to gov.scot

An Evaluation of the Scottish Office Domestic Violence Media Campaign - Research Findings

DescriptionThis report analyses public responses to the media campaign conducted regarding domestic violence.
ISBN0 7480 2951 6
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 29, 1998
Crime and Criminal Justice Research Findings No. 7 (1995)
An Evaluation of The Scottish Office Domestic Violence Media Campaign
ISBN 0-7480-2951-6Publisher The Scottish OfficePrice £5.00
In June 1994, The Scottish Office launched a media campaign aimed at highlighting the criminality of domestic violence; confronting perpetrators with the consequences of their actions; and providing information about support for those affected by domestic violence. The campaign had three main components: a television advertisement, a follow-up poster and a telephone information line. The Scottish Office Central Research Unit was asked to co-ordinate a research-based evaluation of the campaign, the main findings of which are presented in this paper. The evaluation had two main elements: a qualitative study of the way in which the campaign was received and understood by members of the public, carried out by the Centre for Social Marketing (CSM) at Strathclyde University; and a survey by System Three Scotland aimed at assessing the impact and reach of the campaign.
Main findings
  • The television campaign achieved a very high level of coverage, being recalled spontaneously by roughly 8 in 10 respondents and by even higher numbers when shown a photo-prompt.
  • At least 82% of survey respondents in all demographic and geographic sub-groups had seen the commercial. Towards the end of the campaign, 97% of 16-24 year-olds had done so.
  • The television commercial left a strong impression on respondents and appeared to be largely successful in arousing feelings of condemnation and abhorrence towards the perpetrators of domestic violence.
  • However, aspects of the commercial were criticised for appearing to promote stereotypical ideas about the nature and causes of such violence, as was the 'Love and Hate' outdoor poster.
  • Most respondents had expected the freephone telephone service to take the form of a staffed helpline and many were surprised and dismayed to discover that it consisted of a recorded message and leaflet request service.
  • While victims of domestic violence supported the campaign in principle, they were also very critical of some aspects of it.
  • A total of 13,194 calls were made to the telephone information line between 20 June 1994 and 23 December 1994. Nine per cent of callers (1,139) left a message requesting an information pack.
Introduction
In June 1994, The Scottish Office launched a media campaign on the topic of domestic violence. The main aims of the campaign were: to foster an atmosphere of public condemnation towards the perpetrators of such violence; to encourage perpetrators to think about the consequences and implications of their behaviour; and to provide information about support for those affected by domestic violence.
The campaign had three main components:
  • a forty second television commercial, shown intensively over a 5 week period in June and July 1994 and repeated intermittently over the period October-December 1994
  • a ten second follow-up to the main commercial which provided viewers with the number of a telephone information service for those affected - either directly or indirectly - by domestic violence
  • a poster campaign, aimed at reinforcing the central themes of the television commercials, run in approximately 150 sites throughout central Scotland over a 4 week period from the beginning of August 1994.
The Scottish Office Central Research Unit was asked to co-ordinate a research-based evaluation of the campaign. The evaluation had two main elements:
  • a detailed qualitative analysis (carried out by the Centre for Social Marketing at Strathclyde University) of the way in which the campaign was received and understood by members of the general public and by those directly affected by domestic violence, either as victims or offenders
  • a two-stage national survey (by System Three Scotland) aimed primarily at assessing the coverage achieved by the campaign. 1
How many people saw the campaign?
As the graph below shows, at both stages of the survey, the television campaign achieved a very high level of coverage, being recalled spontaneously by roughly 8 in 10 respondents and, with the help of a photo-prompt card, by even higher numbers.
Figure 1
Spontaneous and prompted awareness of television advertising
Figure 1 Spontaneous and prompted awareness of television advertising
At each stage, at least 82% in all demographic and geographic sub-groups had seen the commercial and, at Stage 2, 97% of 16-24 year olds had done so.
At the first stage of the survey, the poster campaign had not yet been launched, but 7% of respondents reported having seen some other poster advertising on the subject of domestic violence (such as 'Zero Tolerance' or similar campaigns). By Stage 2, this figure had risen to 16%, suggesting that The Scottish Office poster had been relatively widely seen.
The general public's reactions to the campaign The television commercials
The main television commercial left a strong impression on most respondents. It was vividly recalled and clearly understood to be about domestic violence. Many reported having discussed the campaign with friends or colleagues around the time of the initial screenings.
It appeared to be successful in communicating the message that domestic violence is wrong and that perpetrators should face up to their actions, and in arousing emotions of abhorrence and condemnation.
However, it was seen as being aimed primarily at two target groups, male perpetrators and female victims, rather than at members of the public as a whole.

To some extent, the commercial was seen as reinforcing stereotypical images of domestic violence because of:

  • the focus on physical injury rather than on the range of abuse experienced by women
  • the implied link with alcohol (through the setting of the commercial in a pub)
The use of visible and extreme facial bruising was also criticised, since it was felt by some not to reflect the fact that domestic violence is often directed at parts of the body not readily seen by outsiders.
It was felt by some respondents that offenders were unlikely to be deterred by the message that domestic violence is a crime, and many were sceptical about how seriously the police and courts would treat reported incidents of domestic violence.
The ten second follow-up commercial was seen as potentially adding credibility to the campaign by offering a support service, but many failed to recall it spontaneously or to link it to the main television campaign.
The telephone service and information pack
Most respondents expected the freephone telephone service to take the form of a staffed 'helpline', providing practical and emotional support, and were surprised and dismayed to discover that it actually consisted of a recorded message and leaflet request service. It was widely felt that callers would feel let down by such a service and considered likely that many would feel unable to leave a message.
Respondents were generally dismissive of the information pack, as it was felt that those most in need would find it difficult to receive and read such material safely. It was also felt that the contents of the pack itself were diverse and fragmented.
The 'Love and Hate' outdoor poster
The 'Love and Hate' poster generated considerable awareness and conveyed powerful provocative images in an easily absorbed manner.
However, the message was ambiguous and some respondents felt it could be counter-productive in that it could support male perpetrators in their behaviour or be threatening to women, particularly those who had been the victims of domestic violence.
A further drawback was that it was seen as reinforcing the commonly held stereotype of perpetrators of such violence as working class, 'rough', 'criminal' types.
In addition, it was not clearly seen as linked to the remainder of The Scottish Office campaign.
How did perpetrators react to the campaign?
Perpetrators tended to see the campaign as part of a general move towards tackling the issue of domestic violence and creating a climate of intolerance. None, however, were aware of it prompting anyone to comment on or address their own violent behaviour.
While campaigns in this area may encourage those perpetrators who recognise they have a problem to seek support, it was suggested that a strategy which offers support to perpetrators appears to be at odds with one which seeks to emphasise the criminal nature of domestic violence.
How did victims react to the campaign?
There was broad support from victims for The Scottish Office campaign and for campaigning on the issue of domestic violence in general.
However, there were also criticisms of aspects of the campaign. These echoed and elaborated the concerns expressed by the general public, namely:
  • the focus on physical injury rather than on the range of abuse experienced by women
  • the atypical location of the bruising
  • the pub setting, which was seen to imply, wrongly, that alcohol was the cause of domestic violence
Importantly, it was felt that the injuries - and their localised and overtly physical nature - might discourage some victims from identifying with the campaign.
Members of the victims' groups were also highly critical of the ten second follow-up commercial and the telephone information line, for similar reasons to those identified by members of the general public. It was felt that having an information pack sent to the caller might cause considerable practical difficulties or even result in further violence.
Calls made to the domestic violence information line
Between 20 June 1994 and 23 December 1994, a total of 13,194 calls were made to the telephone information line.
These calls led to requests for information packs in 1,139 cases (9%).
A quarter of the requests for information packs were made by men and three-quarters by women.
1The first stage of the System Three Scotland survey was carried out shortly after the initial burst of television campaining, the second towards the end of the year once the campaigning had run its course.
Copies of the full report on the evaluation of the campaign, by Susan MacAskill and Douglas Eadie of Strathclyde University, are available priced £5.00.
Cheques should be made payable to The Stationery Office Books and addressed to:
The Stationery Office Bookshop,
71 Lothian Road,
Edinburgh EH3 9AZ.
Telephone: 0131-228 4181 or Fax: 0131-229 2734

The report can also be ordered online from:www.thestationeryoffice.co.uk

Further copies of the Research Findings Paper or information about the Crime and Criminal Justice Research Programme can be obtained by contacting:
The Scottish Office Central Research Unit
Room 306
St Andrew's House
Edinburgh EH1 3DG
Telephone 0131-244 2114