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A campaign to encourage people to start conversations that save lives.

Samaritans and Network Rail

We all have the experience needed to help save a life.

Simple small talk can be enough to disrupt suicidal thoughts, but most people don’t realise this and stay silent. Samaritans, with a wide range of partners including Network Rail, wanted to create a national campaign that made people aware of this.

The ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ campaign had been run in four phases over the previous three years. Each year, it requires a refreshed creative concept and strategy. Following a competitive pitch, Eleven was awarded the work to deliver the fifth phase based on our proven experience in delivering behaviour change campaigns.

Research revealed that people didn’t feel confident in how to act if they saw someone who needed help. So our behaviour change campaign had to persuade people to trust their instincts to start a conversation, as well as giving them the confidence to know what to say.

A campaign to encourage people to start conversations that save lives.

Samaritans and Network Rail

Project summary

  • Research and insights
  • Campaign strategy
  • Channel planning
  • Messaging development
  • Creative direction
  • Graphic design
  • Animation and motion graphics
  • Audience testing


We evaluated research led by Dr Lisa Marzano, which highlighted that some people still didn’t feel confident in what to do or say if they found themselves in this position. So, whilst the previous campaign phases had worked well for awareness of the campaign, we knew we needed to go one step further by giving people the confidence to act if they spotted someone who needed help.

Our clear strategic thinking responded to these four stages in the bystander’s thought process:

1. Identifying that something is wrong
2. Not feeling confident/not knowing what to say
3. Choosing to say something
4. Making a difference/saving a life

As our first objective was to increase awareness of the campaign, we worked with the client’s media buying agency to develop a channel strategy with a wide mix of paid and owned media to maximise reach. This included radio and Spotify adverts, mobile targeting, paid social, magazine and newspaper adverts, paid billboards, in-station advertising and PR.

To give our audience the confidence to act, we knew our creative needed to be inspirational. So using a bold typographic style and conversational language, we developed a creative solution that was relatable to our audience and encouraged them to start a conversation.

We tested audience feedback before and during the campaign to understand our audience’s emotional response and whether the campaign messages were being received. We also worked with a specialist research agency to test:

  • the performance of the different creatives
  • their impact on attitudes and actions
  • their effect on brand reputation
  • and how the individual executions could be optimised.


We created over 50 different assets for digital and print including social media assets in Welsh and English, as well as bilingual versions. This meant the creative needed to be adaptable. The campaign involved lots of client stakeholders and suppliers, so we created and managed a robust project delivery schedule with regular stakeholder catch-ups.
A mock up of the station screens showing the campaign.
A mock up of the campaign poster.


Before we ran this campaign, the audience research indicated that only 42% of commuters felt confident about how to act when seeing someone in distress. As a result of seeing our creative, 85% of respondents felt more confident in knowing how to intervene. And 20% of all passengers were aware of the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign - up 6% on the average score calculated for passenger campaign recognition.

The campaign delivered over 23 million impressions, exceeding the originally forecast number of booked impressions by 15%. And a total of 144 pieces of news coverage were achieved, with a combined circulation of 28.5 million.

This campaign won the Best Public Awareness Cause Campaign at the Purpose Awards 2022. It has since also been shortlisted for several other renowned industry awards.

The outcome of this hard-hitting campaign was that more people had the confidence to act if they saw someone who needed help, meaning many more lives can be saved on the railway.


"Eleven was a dream to work with! They provided guidance and a range of suggestions to ensure that we were making the most efficient use of the budget. The creative concept they produced was engaging, simple and had an adaptable design, along with powerful messaging to encourage audiences to take action. "

Campaigns Manager


A mock up of a station billboard.
A mock up of a station iOS screen.
A mock up of the campaign toolkit.