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Birmingham City Council Little Moments adoption marketing campaign

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 21 February 2014

Birmingham City Council uses advertising and social media for Little Moments

Little Moments by Birmingham City Council integrates channels for its adoption marketing campaign

Birmingham City Council logoCampaign name: Little Moments
Brand: Birmingham City Council (BCC)
Audience: Families, parents, prospective adoptive parents
Regions: Birmingham, UK
Duration: 21/01/2014 to 23/02/2014
Channels: Advertising (outdoor advertising), Facebook, TV advertising, Twitter

Social Media Portal (SMP): Agencies behind the campaign

Birmingham City Council (BCC): Branding agency, Orb, and Vermillion Films with PR support from East Village.

Birmingham City Council Little Moments adoption marketing campaign imageSMP: The brand

BCC: The 'Little Moments' campaign was created for Birmingham City Council's
Adoption Recruitment team

'Little Moments' was created to attract new adopters to take on the 170+ children
waiting to find permanent homes, by showing the magical moments created by
children every day.  

SMP: What regions is the campaign for?

BBC: The campaign is for Birmingham and the surrounding 30-mile radius that
Birmingham City Council's Adoption Team is able to recruit from.

SMP: The official campaign name and why was it chosen?

BBC: We wanted to take a different approach to recruiting adopters; rather than
using images of children looking sad, this was all about focusing on the positive
aspects of parenting. From this idea, the 'Little Moments' campaign was born; to
highlight those magical moments that children make every day, whether that be a
hug before bedtime or making mischief at teatime.

SMP: What was the start and end of the campaign?

BCC: The campaign launched on 20/01/14 and remains ongoing. However, waves of marketing activity, including television and outdoor ads, are from 20/01/2014 to 02/02/2014 and 17/02/2014 to 23/02/2014.

SMP: The target audiences of the campaign, who are you trying to reach and why?

BCC: We have a broad target audience for this campaign and part of its purpose is
to dispel the myths surrounding who can adopt. Anyone over the age of 21 may be
eligible to adopt.  The service will consider single parents, unmarried and married
couples, whether same sex or opposite sex. The Adoption & Fostering Recruitment
Team looks for people of good enough health, although there is no age limit which
can provide a loving home for a child. However, people can be employed or
unemployed and in rented or owned accommodation. Added to this, any religious background is accepted.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about your campaign

BCC: ‘Little Moments' is centred around the magic moments that children create and
the aim is to attract new adopters to help place the 170+ children that are being
looked after by Birmingham City Council. Through TV and outdoor advertising, we
are driving people to the website to find out more about
who can adopt and the process they will go through. On the website potential
adopters will find a detailed information pack, information about the process and
also read stories from people that have been through the service.

SMP: What are the objectives of the campaign and why is it different?

BCC: The team has had achieved record levels of recruitment for fostering in both
2011/12 and 2012/13 financial years, following our initiatives like 'Time to Care' and
events like 'Fostering Fiesta'. We want to achieve the same with adoption,
particularly as we have over 170 children waiting for permanent homes.

The main objective for 'Little Moments' is to drive enquiries to the website and our
team on the phone and, ultimately, help us to recruit more parents and place more
children into new homes.

SMP: What are the channels, platforms and methods you’re using and why?

BCC: Before the campaign, we had a website for our adoption and fostering
services, and we communicated with people using the complete promotional mix;
from display and print advertising, to radio and experiential. More recently, we've
embraced the power of online marketing and have been placing Facebook and
Google adverts, as well as YouTube activity. The main channel we didn't use was

'Little Moments' gave us a great opportunity to start communicating with people in a
new way. We wanted to promote the positive aspects of parenting, to show people
just how much difference they could make not only to a child's life but also their own.
Our branding agency Orb appointed Vermillion Films to create a TV advert to really
bring the campaign to life, capturing some of the best moments parents experience
with children. This was aired across the ITV Central region, focusing on high profile
slots during the likes of Coronation Street, Emmerdale and This Morning.

Alongside the TV advert, Orb commissioned a new suite of photography, from which
adverts were produced and placed on buses around the region, to help spread the
word. We also updated our information pack; using our new 'tone of voice', which
can now be viewed online and downloaded as a PDF.

All advertising drove people to the new website and our phone line: 0121 303 757. We also have a Facebook page Birmingham Council Adoption and Twitter account @BrumAdoptFoster.

SMP: Why has television been used and where are the commercials being broadcast?

BCC: We launched with a two-week wave of television advertising; from 20 January until 2 February. Another week will follow from 17 until 23 February.

One of our main objectives is to dispel the myths surrounding who can adopt, which
opens up our target audiences. There are many people that may be interested in
adopting, but unaware that they meet the criteria. Television advertising was the
perfect way to get out to a mass audience, in exactly the right catchment area, to
help us launch this new campaign. Of course, we don't rely on the ads to educate
people about the service and the process they go through, but our new approach to
communicating with people will hopefully drive more people to our website and onto
the phone, where they will find out everything they need to know.

ITV was chosen as the best channel for our demographic and in the first wave we
opted for 200 TVRs across  their most popular shows. This meant that people
watching shows like This Morning, Emmerdale, Dancing on Ice, Coronation Street,
Dickinson's Real Deal, and All Star Family Fortunes got to see the advert. Given that
we can recruit parents from a 30-mile radius of Birmingham, we opted for the ITV
Central region, to avoid any further wastage.

Other local authorities are using traditional and digital communications channels, but
we are one of, if not, the only using television.

SMP: How are you making the campaign social and shareable?

BCC: We're making all of the information easy to access, and through our own social
media channels we're able to link to the new website, information pack and case
studies, depending on what message we're trying to push.

We are connecting with more people on Twitter and Facebook; using their own
networks, followers and fans to help us spread the message about the campaign.

SMP: Are there any dedicated hashtags or social media profiles for the campaign and how/why did you chose these?

BCC: We haven't created a new hashtag for this campaign; instead we're using the
best and most relevant hashtags out there at the moment for adoption, e.g.
#adoption #fostering and #children.

We want to engage people about adoption, rather than just talk about the campaign,
so sticking to simple hashtags like #adoption #birmingham allows us to be part of
existing conversations, rather than create our own.

SMP: What do you hope to achieve?

BCC: Having more 170 children waiting for permanent homes is our priority so we
ultimately need new parents to come forward and apply for adoption. The first stage
of this is for them to make contact with us, whether that be via the website or over
the phone. The adoption process can be lengthy but we need to attract more people,
from a variety of backgrounds, to help us place as many children as possible.

We initiated this campaign because we wanted to take a new, more engaging
approach to recruitment.

When the campaign launched, we saw website enquiries increase by 130%, when
compared with the same period in 2013, so we know that the message is getting out
there. We know that it's a big decision in someone's life, and not one they can make
after having a quick look at a new website, but the increase in traffic – currently
around 371% more unique visits compared to last year – means that we're
communicating with more people. If this resulted in only one child being placed, that
would make it worthwhile to us.

Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in Europe and, as such, has a
wider geographical area to cover and more children to home. We're dedicated to
finding new parents for these children and our new approach is all about showing
people just how much difference they can make by adopting.

SMP: What were the challenges in creating the campaign and how did you overcome them?

BCC: Historically, our team has created some very engaging campaigns and have
come up with creative ideas to promote our services to new audiences. This has
included two major Fostering Fiesta events, and initiatives like 'Time to Chat' and
'Time to Care'. We have also hosted a 'Fosterchef' event with MasterChef finalist
Claire Hutchings. However, we knew that this would need some expert help so we
recruited branding specialist agency, Orb.

Birmingham City Council Little Moments adoption marketing campaign image

They are based in central Birmingham, which is convenient for the team, but more
than that they take a completely different approach to campaign creation.

Upon appointment, Orb really got to know the team and the process that each and
every person goes through. They conducted one-to-one sessions with key team
members to understand the process and the barriers they have to overcome, as well
as focus groups with adopters, foster carers and children who have been through
the service. Armed with this information, ORB has delivered a series of 'brand
culture' sessions for the recruitment team to explain the direction of 'Little Moments'
and how it aims to communicate with potential parents.

This helped shape the 'Little Moments' campaign and drove the overall direction of
the photography, TV advert, information pack and outdoor ads.

Photography has been a major part of this campaign and one of our main challenges
has been the confidentiality surrounding parents and adopted children. For the
adverts, we used professional models – both parents and children – however we
identified a number of families who were happy to take part in media interviews.

SMP: What are / did you doing to measure the campaign and what measurement tools do you have in place to do this?

BCC: Our key objective is to drive enquiries, so our direct measurement tool is to
look at the number of phone calls and website hits. So far, when comparing January
2014 with January 2013, we have seen website visits increase by 346% and unique
visits increase by 371%. This has resulted in a 130% increase in enquiries to the

Whilst this is an ongoing project and a long process overall, these initial figures are a
positive sign and show that our January advertising campaign has been a success.
Now we just have to maintain momentum and turn these enquiries into applications
and, eventually, the placing of children into new homes.

SMP: What is was the budget used for the campaign?

BCC: The overall budget for this campaign, including all creative work, media buying
and agency fees is around £160,000.

However, this is all about supporting the local economy; we are using three
Birmingham-based agencies for branding, video production and PR. In addition to
that, we have purchased through a local media buying agency, and are spending
money locally.

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