Product / ServiceALEXA
CategoryB02. Use of Audio Platforms
EntrantVML Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Idea Creation VML Sydney, AUSTRALIA

The Campaign

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.

Creative Execution

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.

We tested Lifeline in Atlanta to see how women responded, and how we could further develop it to make it as effective as possible and the system has since been deployed nationwide. Since Lifeline’s launch in March we’ve sent 17 texts for help. Unfortunately, even this small number reflects just how prevalent domestic abuse is, as every message is a cry for help in a desperate, potentially deadly situation. In terms of media response and effectiveness of targeting, we’ve achieved exactly what we aimed for – no shares by influencers and zero coverage in the news and social media. Keeping Lifeline a secret that’s only know by our target audience.

Lifeline is extraordinarily targeted, as domestic abuse is such a sensitive issue and we couldn’t have abusers reading any messaging around our campaign. We had to ensure every communication was visible to victims, but invisible to abusers.

Insights, Strategy and the Idea

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.


Name Company Position
Debbi Vandeven VML Chief Creative Officer
Aden Hepburn VML Executive Creative Director
Maurizio Villarreal VML Executive Creative Director
Matt Geersen VML Creative Director
David DiVeroli VML Strategy Director
Louise McQuat VML Senior Art Director
Jack Emery VML Senior Copywriter
Pietro Miotto VML Developer
Courtney Print VML Developer
Ellyn Dupuis VML Account Director
Alex Lambert VML Senior Producer
Andrew Gillies VML Designer
Brendon Killen VML Motion Designer
Skylar Russell VML Senior Account Manager
Gina Cassaro VML Associate Art Director
Michael Micetich VML Senior Copywriter
Alice Green VML Senior Strategist
Carly Harrison VML Producer
Video URL