Alexa Lifeline

By VML, Sydney, Australia

For Partnership Against Domestic Violence - PADV

Highly Commended in category Health & Wellness

In subcategory Non-Profit-Digital

Project Description
The reality of domestic abuse is that many women stay in violent relationships. This is due to many factors such as reduced self-esteem, love, children, fear and being financially dependent. We also know 70% of these women will never contact the police, and usually have no way to use a phone to call a friend of family member for help during an escalating situation without further angering the abuser. Our brief was to give women a way to call for help during an escalating situation. We had two objectives: - It couldn’t further anger the abuser. - It had to be completely secret – something the abuser wouldn’t suspect and if found, wouldn’t give away its functionality. - All communications also had to be as direct as possible, so an abuser could never find out about Lifeline.
Agency Solution
We created The Alexa Lifeline – a chance for women to text for help by simply turning on music. We took the United States number one voice activated assistant, Amazon Alexa, and created a generic music player with Lifeline’s functionality hidden inside. When activated, a song plays, and a secret custom text is sent to a designated friend. This gave women a discreet way to contact the outside world for help by simply playing music. We educated women about Lifeline through extraordinarily targeted communications that left no trace. We placed posters in female bathrooms and spread the message in social groups. Women who wanted help scanned a Snapcode, which took them to a video containing details about Lifeline, and a link to the site to download the skill. Targeting our audience where we knew they could engage with our message, and in a way that keeps them safe.
We found women often turn up the TV or play loud music to hide the sounds of an escalating argument or abuse from neighbours or children. This made turning on music a believable and natural way for victims to trigger a text message for help. We used Amazon Alexa as it’s currently within millions of homes across the United States and growing faster than any other voice activated assistant. This made it the perfect way to make Lifeline available to as many women as possible. Using a voice assistant also meant women could activate Lifeline without leaving the room or touching the phone. We wanted to target victims of domestic abuse where they would be alone, and give only those who wanted help information. This ensured Lifeline stayed secret, and greatly reduced the risk of it being shared on social or anywhere an abuser might look.
Women downloaded our generic music player directly from the Amazon Skill store. It was not called Lifeline, and is not named here to ensure it remains secret. This skill seems like any other music player, with no indication of its lifesaving functionality. PADV safely spread the word about Lifeline to victims through social groups. We used corporate partners to place posters within women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and college dorms that directed to informative Snapchat videos which disappeared after viewing. All communications pushed users to an unlisted website that appeared like any other site on the surface. The copy told a different story – it described how the skill works, and allows users to sign up for the texting service, and to customise their message. Every step was carefully considered to ensure we gave women a tool that couldn’t be discovered, and worked as promised.
Please rotate your device
to portrait orientation