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Nationwide & Channel 4: #TogetherAgainstHate

Nationwide & Channel 4: #TogetherAgainstHate

Posted on: March 30, 2020

Key Points

  • After seeing the level of online abuse directed at the real people featured in their advertising, Nationwide wanted to bring the problem into the public arena
  • Partnering with Channel 4, they showcased the shocking abuse with a unique ad break takeover in Gogglebox
  • The campaign generated huge awareness and support and delivered the highest scores ever in Nationwide’s brand health tracking

The Challenge

Since 2016, Nationwide has championed real people in their advertising. The Nationwide ‘Voices’ campaign epitomised this perfectly and took pride in featuring diverse people from all walks of life, sharing their everyday experiences, in their own words.

Nationwide also understood that there will always be those who don’t like advertising or who express an alternative point of view. But what was becoming increasingly disturbing was that the real people featured in their advertising were receiving a barrage of personal and hateful online abuse after appearing on screen. For a brand whose core values sit firmly in putting people before profit and the ‘currency of kindness’, watching these comments increase was not something they felt comfortable merely moderating and hiding from view. In the words of Sara Bennison, Nationwide’s CMO, these actions felt as though Nationwide were becoming complicit in condoning a world where hatred and bigotry was okay.

Sara knew Nationwide were not the only brand experiencing this behaviour and quickly teamed up with ISBA to develop a set of guidance notes for advertisers experiencing online abuse. She also enlisted Wavemaker to help Nationwide produce a public-facing campaign to highlight the scale of online abuse in the UK and motivate the nation to change their behaviour.

Nationwide’s founding principle of mutuality anchored their strategy – we can achieve more together than alone. The rallying cry was simple. They wanted to galvanise other brands who champion diversity to work alongside them; take a collective stand in bringing this behaviour out from the shadows and broadcast it to the nation; and ask - if it’s not OK to say it face-to-face, why is it OK to say it online? #TogetherAgainstHate was born.

The TV Solution

When developing the campaign strategy, Wavemaker knew they needed to partner with a broadcast channel to deliver mass reach to a broad audience up and down the country. Channel 4’s “born risky” attitude and their commitment to diversity in their programming and advertising made them stand out as the perfect partner to take Nationwide’s strategy to the next level. Brainstorming began immediately between Channel 4, Wavemaker, Nationwide and VCCP to determine the best possible execution of the message.

Nationwide shared their 2018 ‘Hate Log’ – the real unadulterated abuse targeted at the people features in their ads – and Wavemaker soon realised the power of this content to shock the nation. Broadcasting it on prime-time TV would be in sharp contrast to the somewhat murkier world online and crucially, it would be an environment where people would least expect to see it and therefore more shocking.

With the creative route decided, Wavemaker wanted to speak to other likeminded brands to tell them about Nationwide’s mission. They were looking for brands who not only shared similar values and were willing to stand up and support this topic, but also had used real people in their advertising and those real people had also received abuse online.

McCain and Maltesers were chosen and the collaboration came together in a unique ad break takeover. Each advertiser’s TV ad would be treated with a powerful and bespoke overlay which included examples of real online abuse the individuals within the ads had received. Nationwide’s ad featured racial abuse with a mould overlay effect; Maltesers featured disability abuse with a digital distortion overlay; whilst McCain’s featured homophobia with a cracked glass overlay. The diversity of the three ads powerfully highlighted online abuse across a wide spectrum of issues. A Channel 4 continuity announcer introduced the ad break, setting up the premise and informing the viewers that it contained language that may shock and offend. The outro encouraged viewers to question why online abuse isn’t taken as seriously as face-to-face hate and directed them to an online support page for more information. Throughout, viewers were able to continue the debate on social media using the hashtag #TogetherAgainstHate. The charity Cybersmile was also enlisted to source shocking statistics displayed in the ad break’s interstitials to highlight the scale of online abuse in the UK.

The Plan

Wavemaker knew that the right broadcast moment for this ad break was in peak airtime and in a stand-out show within Channel 4’s roster. Because of the nature of what they were showing, the show itself needed to embody the values of inclusivity and respect and represent the diversity of the UK. They also wanted to leverage a shared viewing moment, so the message would have maximum resonance and the opportunity to spark conversation, as people were exposed to it whilst with their loved ones.

While there was a lot of criteria, there was one clear choice: Gogglebox.

Gogglebox gives voice to and celebrates, the diversity of families and friends of all shapes, sizes and creeds. The fact that it showcases real people across the UK reacting to and discussing current topics and what they were seeing on television meant it was the perfect contextual fit. It also over-indexes for shared viewing, meaning more people would be watching with at least one other person they care about.

To capitalise on the excitement surrounding the new series, Wavemaker chose to run the content in the first ad break of episode 1 of series 12, juxtaposing the shock of the online abuse with the warmth and acceptance of the well-loved characters on the show.

As well as delivering a powerful broadcast moment on Friday 27th September 2018, as the ad break aired , Wavemaker’s in-house influencer marketing division simultaneously launched 50 pieces of content from micro-influencers talking about their experience of online abuse. This was the largest, most instantaneous influencer campaign ever run at Wavemaker or GroupM. Each post highlighted the effect of online abuse on each influencer and included the hashtag #TogetherAgainstHate to encourage further conversation.

Continuing the content-led approach, Wavemaker worked with Global’s LBC to host a special report week about online hate. The week featured a variety of guests who were interviewed during Shelagh Fogarty’s show discussing different topics around online hate. These included Nationwide’s CMO Sara Bennison. A dedicated hub was built on LBC, with each interview uploaded daily and featuring a click-out to the Channel 4 #TogetherAgainstHate page to ensure consistency across the campaign.  Several outdoor media partners also pledged their support for the campaign with free of charge distress inventory across 30+ digital sites in the UK, delivering over 2 million incremental impacts to spread the message even further.


The campaign had a huge impact. For £170,000 TV investment and a total budget of less than £350,000, the campaign reached 42% of UK adults and sparked an outpouring of shock at the abuse and support for the cause.

The ad break trended #1 on Twitter as it aired and generated PR coverage from 15 national news outlets, radio stations and industry publications. Results from Channel 4’s Core4 research ranked the campaign as their most impactful ever – the highest scores for “stand out”, “shock” and “instigating a positive change”.

The campaign initiated an overwhelming response within Nationwide’s own 18,000-strong workforce and, perhaps more importantly, it was a powerful demonstration of the company’s core difference as a financial services brand that exists to benefit society, not shareholders. This was reflected in Nationwide’s brand health tracking at the end of 2018, where they saw significant uplifts and the highest ever scores in the key measures of ‘Trust’, ‘Care More about Meeting Customer Needs Than Maximising Profit’ and ‘Different to Other Providers’.

Nationwide remains publicly committed to celebrating diversity in their organisation and advertising and have spearheaded work with ISBA to publish guidelines for brands experiencing similar behaviour. Work is already underway on what Phase 2 of #TogetherAgainstHate will look like as Nationwide continues to build on the awareness and impact that was achieved with Phase 1.

The campaign was the WINNER of ‘Best Use of Content’ at the TV Planning Awards 2019.

Together Against Hate enabled us to take something dark and distressing – online abuse – and transform it into something positive. Despite only a relatively small investment, through the broadcast power of TV and its impact in real world conversations, we used content that was designed to hurt and silence people to create something that brought people together to speak out. For us, the most inspiring part of this activity wasn’t necessarily the scale of the message from an advertising perspective, but the partnership and collaboration that fuelled it. The fact that so many voices joined us in support validated our decision to respond in the way we did. This campaign was a true demonstration of our values and what makes us different.

Gemma Pauley Senior Advertising & Social Media Manager, Nationwide


Sector: Financial

Brand: Nationwide Building Society

Campaign objectives: To drive mass awareness and spark debate about online abuse 

Target Audience: All

Budget: £170,000 TV investment (£350,000 total campaign budget)

Campaign Dates: Aired Friday 28th September 2018

TV Usage: a unique takeover ad break within Gogglebox

Creative Agency: VCCP

Media Agency:  Wavemaker


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