Leeds Universities’ Substance Misuse Group (NHS Leeds, University of Leeds, Leeds Trinity University College, Leeds University Union, Leeds Metropolitan Students Union)


To produce a substance misuse campaign that addresses the disparity between perceived and actual levels of substance use. The campaign should be sustainable for three years and the campaign message much reach students from three Leeds Universities. The intervention should be carried out using the ‘social norms approach’.


Develop a marketing strategy to ensure the social norms messages are communicated effectively, creatively and in a way that engages the target audience, who are spread across various key locations across the city of Leeds. This should be carried out in a way that does not give the Media and local community reason to believe this campaign is being undertaken because there is a drugs problem in Leeds – educate them it’s the opposite.

Manage the implementation of the campaign, any staff that must be recruited and sourcing of suppliers. Measure the success of the campaign and provide recommendations for the future.



As part of the intervention strategy aspects such as placement and timescale of delivery were determined. A three-stage campaign was devised to create an maintain a buzz amongst students. Students were teased with small amounts of information at first and gradually found out more information through both advertising and their own investigation.

This was effective in building interest and suspense, and in turn, discussion on social media before the launch.

We developed a strong brand identity for the campaign which we named ‘What the Flock?’. Our aim was to create a bold, memorable brand that could be used digitally, in print and in a guerilla way. During the initial launch the brand was seen in random places so it would stand out and get talked about.The brand aimed to be fun and playful so students would engage with it; and brand managers in future years would embrace and develop it.

The brand, ‘What the flock’, was displayed using the colours black and white in order to stand out amongst so much more visual noise, to keep costs down, and have an underground feel to the brand.

The brand had an identifiable shape associated with it, which was the sheep. This lone sheep was ready to make a decision about whether or not he followed ‘the flock’.

WTF logo


WTF campaign images

Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 16.56.18


17,000 students visited within the three week teaser and launch period.

Campaign activity was picked up during the teaser period by The Guardian, who conducted a follow-up story upon launch. Numerous student bloggers and Creative Review featured the campaign too.

The brand spread virally. What the Flock? was the question on a huge number of students’ lips during September/October 2010.

1153 people ‘liked’ the campaign on Facebook, creating a large database of students who can be communicated to in the future.

The campaign was engaging for our target audience as well as subsidiary audiences including staff, local school children, industry bloggers, the press and the community, who were educated that student drug use is not as prolific as some of them make have previously thought.

3296 students were engaged well enough to visit the website on the day of the campaign being launched online.

Students who completed the perception test on will have compared their perceived levels of drug use with the actual figures and potentially influenced their future behaviour. Data was captured for each of these users for future communication and date about average perceived levels of drug-use can continually be collected.

The brand associated with this campaign is memorable and was interacted with by huge numbers of students, both online and offline. These thousands of students (whether substance users or not) will remember where to go if ever they have questions or problems about substance use in the future.

The campaign was sustainable and relatively environmentally friendly. There was little print involved in communications and any physical supplies were reusable. Items such as stickers were taken by students to remain on their personal property for ongoing brand recognition.

WTF website

WTF stats