The DNA Project raised significant awareness of the importance of DNA preservation at crime scenes

The DNA Project is a Cape Town- based initiative whose mission it is to raise awareness of the importance of DNA preservation at crime scenes, and in 2011 it combined forces with FoxP2 to create a TVC called ‘The Cigarette that saves lives’, which was flighted on Top TV last year, and DSTV and MNET in 2012.

To support the message of the TVC and spark public debate the creative team at FoxP2 conceptualised an activation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jM08SYzvjo) to represent the loss and damage that first-on crime scene responders as well as the general public can effect to evidence left at a crime scene.  It was intended to kick start a conversation around a very serious topic that was not receiving the attention it deserved.  With impending legislation and an uninformed South African public, the objective of the campaign was to generate a conversation that would correct this, putting in motion significant exposure for The DNA Project, including interviews on talk radio stations.

Actual statistics of the campaign include:

  • Total earned media: R2.6 million;
  • Activation audience: 8000;
  • Youtube views: 17400;
  • Website hits on the day of activation: 15573 (30% increase from previous day)

The installation and accompanying viral proved highly effective in spreading the message.  The viral has over 17400 views, to go with the R2.6 million in earned media for The DNA Project. The word of mouth generated from the 8000 commuters who experienced the installation in real time, either by partaking or by witnessing the hype at the Cape Town Station, would have a lasting impact. With zero PR spend, the return on investment proves just how influential an integrated campaign of this nature can be. Vanessa Lynch, Founder of The DNA Project confirms this, “Education around crime scene preservation is a key focus for The DNA Project. FoxP2 have created three major awareness initiatives for us, all of which I believe have generated massive awareness and a knock on effect.”

The activation took place on Tuesday morning, May 15, 2012 at the Cape Town Train Station. The subsequently produced viral shows how – using time-lapse videography of the activation – the lack of proper preservation of a crime scene can destroy valuable evidence and the chance of a conviction.  The video of the activation has been posted on YouTube for public viewing.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jM08SYzvjo&feature=youtu.be

The activation consisted of a large (8m x 6m) sand box filled with tiny stones of various colours depicting a mug shot of a convict holding up an ID board.  This box was placed in the busy open hall area of the Cape Town Metrorail station.  Commuters were encouraged to walk over the box, thus blurring the mug shot and making it increasingly difficult to see the convicts’ face.  The idea got the public involved in demonstrating how disturbing a crime scene can prevent criminals from being identified. The integrated campaign’s proven success will ensure that this topic does not get swept under the carpet.

About The DNA Project:

After her father was brutally murdered in his Johannesburg home in 2004 and all traces of DNA and other forensic evidence were lost, destroyed and neglected due to the inexperience and lack of crime scene preservation awareness of the first on crime scene responders, Vanessa Lynch realised that something needed to be done to address this issue in SA and founded The DNA Project.   (See notes to editor).

Based on Interpol figures South Africa has high but manageable levels of property crime but an extraordinary high level of violent crime. It is South Africa’s high level of violent crime that sets the country apart from other crime-ridden societies; this finding is supported by CIAC data indicating that since 1994 recorded violent crime has been escalating at a faster rate than any other crime category.  It is primarily violent crime that fuels people’s fear of crime. To lose its label as crime capital of the world, violent crime levels have to drop substantially in South Africa, http://www.iss.co.za/pubs/CrimeIndex/01Vol5No1/World.html, as well as have our rate of conviction dramatically increase.

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