An anti-knife crime AI-led campaign from The Ben Kinsella Trust hopes to ensure all sons come home this Mother’s Day

Using machine learning technology developed by M&C Saatchi London and Clear Channel UK, the largely DOOH initiative aims to reflect how modern advertising can help serve a larger social purpose.

This UK Mother’s Day, The Ben Kinsella Trust is launching an innovative omnichannel and machine learning-based campaign to raise awareness of the devastating impact of knife crime.

The headlining element of the campaign is a new AI system that is triggered by recognising the sound of ambulance sirens nearby. Developed by M&C Saatchi London and Clear Channel UK, every time an ambulance drives past, or is in close proximity to bus shelters connected to the AI, its siren will trigger the technology to show powerful messages from mothers to their sons, highlighting the thoughts that go through a mother’s mind whenever she hears sirens.

Alongside the AI-driven tech, the campaign includes almost 1,000 live digital billboards and Adshels across the UK. Some showcase the thoughts and fears of mothers, while others ask sons not to carry a knife this Mother’s Day. The campaign and its messages are further reinforced by organic social media activity.

Born from the fact 315 people were admitted to hospital on Mother’s Day 2022 due to knife-related incidents, with many never returning home, the initiative hopes to serve as a powerful example of advertising with a social conscience.

“Shining a light” on the impact of knife crime

Guy Bradbury, Creative Partner, M&C Saatchi London, said: “Much of the dialogue around knife crime is focussed on those who are directly involved, or on the government’s response. In this campaign we wanted to shine a light on its devastating impact on those who are left behind, handing over poster sites to the one person our audience might listen to: their mums.”

Jonathan Acton, Head of Creative Delivery, Clear Channel, added: “As soon as we heard about this amazing idea, we knew we had to build it. We’re using machine learning to bring this important campaign message to life in a dynamic way that has never been done before."

The Ben Kinsella Trust – formed by Brooke Kinsella and her family following the senseless stabbing to death of her 16-year-old brother Ben 15 years ago – has launched this campaign as a follow up to 2019’s award-winning ‘Shout out to my son’ radio campaign in collaboration with M&C Saatchi, where radio adverts featured mothers making emotional pleas to their sons to stop carrying knives.

Brooke Kinsella said of the Mother’s Day initiative: “It’s been 15 years since we lost Ben and the pain of his loss has never gone away. Nobody should ever have to receive a phone call telling them that their loved one has been involved in a knife-related incident.

“Our campaign highlights the unique bond that exists between young men and their mum. Using text messages from mothers making emotional pleas to their sons, this innovative campaign will reach young men and make them think about the impact their decisions will have on those they love, so they stay safe and don't carry a knife."