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Empowering intervention for safer nights out.

Realising when situations are becoming heated and knowing how to defuse them is key to reducing violence on nights out. The Walk Away campaign gives young men the advice they need to support their peers to make safer choices.

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Walk Away

Drunken fights on a night out may be familiar but this kind of violence can have a devastating impact. Crime data shows that in 2022, there were 40 near-miss homicides in Leicester City centre. These assaults, sometimes known as ‘one punch’ incidents, can cause serious injuries and sometimes even be fatal. Walk Away is a behaviour change campaign designed to prevent this type of violent crime, by encouraging young men aged 18-30 to step in and support their peers in making better choices.

Oct – Dec 2023

Leicestershire Police

Scope of work

  • Brand development & visual identity
  • Campaign development & activation
  • Creative messaging and copywriting
  • Research and analysis
  • Training and toolkit development
  • UX and website development

What we did

Our research found that the best way to prevent violent situations is by guiding people to de-escalate. Studies show that intervening is more common and safer than people think. In key moments, people can choose to step in (as a bystander) or walk away (as a participant). By resolving certain situations early on, before they get heated, it can reduce the likelihood of violence.

This was also supported by a location-specific insight survey with males in Leicester. 75% said they had stopped a friend from getting into a fight. 100% felt they would be more confident intervening if they knew what steps to take. As a result, the campaign aimed to emphasise the difference that individuals can make and how to do so safely and effectively.

The research also found key trigger points that often happen on nights out. Spilt drinks, funny looks or unwanted attention were all common situations that could lead to heated situations. By making peers aware of these signs, we can help them identify situations that might escalate. This way, they can step in and help each other make better decisions before things turn violent.

The aim of the campaign was to empower men to look out for the early behaviours in themselves and their friends. It could do this by encouraging people to:

  • Look out for early signs of conflict
  • To understand and be aware of the dynamics of their friendship group
  • To normalise the conversation around triggers
  • To build positive social norms
  • To Encourage people to step in and diffuse
  • To Encourage people to walk away

The campaign had to deal with challenges like low lighting, crowded spaces and the target audience being intoxicated. In response, the team created a series of short statements with clear and actionable advice.

The design was inspired by night time economy settings. Urban textures and creative type treatments ensured that it was able to compete in these spaces. Bright neon colours made the messages noticeable on busy streets and even inside nightclubs. Campaign photos showed a series of male role models having fun and enjoying their night out. This highlighted the positive group dynamics that the campaign was aiming to promote.

‘Walk Away’ became both an action-oriented campaign name and a call to action. The assertive and upbeat tone of voice aimed to speak to the audience as a peer rather than as an authority.

Campaign impact

The campaign was met with great feedback from key partners. Many of these partners were working in Leicester’s night time economy. “For me, this was a fantastic marketing campaign… You’ve done the right thing by having a mix of different strategies to get the message across. They’re all playing a role in making the point.” Joe, bar manager at Mosh nightclub.


The highly targeted digital ads achieved a 333% increase in clickthrough rate than the industry average, demonstrating active engagement from the target audience.


impressions over the campaign’s initial 3 month period.


The campaign went on to be rolled out nationally, with 11 police forces championing the campaign in their cities.

The placement of the campaign assets was carefully considered to make the most impact. Placing them in the build up to a night out allowed us to talk to people when they were less drunk and more likely to pay attention. Spotify ads were heard by the audience while listening to party playlists before going out. Google Search ads targeted people looking for taxis, drinking games or venues online.  A Snapchat augmented reality lens targeted club locations and hotspots for people to use during the night out. These were supported by more general awareness adverts that ran across YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

Magpie developed a simple quiz exploring roles in friendship groups and different personalities. This provocative style of content worked well on social media to promote the website. Once finished, the quiz gave personalised advice that was designed to be shared, and to get the audience to think about the dynamics in their peer groups.

The website worked to support the campaign and provide the target audience with more in depth information about when and how to best step in. Heat mapping of the website showed that 75% of users engaged with the advice on how to handle trigger points.

In December, police forces across the UK helped launch the campaign nationwide. Magpie created a toolbox of materials to support the campaign rollout. This included a variety of posters, out-of-home adverts, digital ads and social media. Making everything easy to use and to download helped make the roll out of the campaign seamless.

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