Shortcuts - Hacking ‘skip ad’ to save lives


Client: Network Rail

Trespass on the railway is a major issue. People believe they understand all the risks – and are overly confident in their ability to avoid them. If I can safely cross a busy road, I can manage an empty train track, right?


A unique partnership with Reach Media allowed us to break the rules of pre-rolls, to reduce trespass by 19% in priority locations compared to the previous year - in a campaign that outperformed all Network Rail trespass campaign predecessors, on all KPIs.

Our broad audience was only linked by their behaviour. The most frequently used excuse for trespass around the railway is taking a shortcut – which gave us our hook.

We all love a shortcut, if we can skip it, we will. Advertisers fight fingers poised to skip our ads – it was this ‘skipping’ behaviour leveraged. Interactive pre-rolls presented a safety video with a fake ‘Skip ad’ prompt to shortcut it. If users chose to shortcut safety – at any point – a seamlessly served second video delivered the consequences: a graphic VFX wipe out.

55% of users stuck around for the full video – job done. And as for the 45% that tried to skip our ‘boring’ safety ad? Job DONE.