FCB Inferno launched “Follow me” social experiment for charity Barnardo’s

Advertising, CSR, Digital & Media, Social Media

FCB Inferno has created a powerful new social experiment to prompt parents and carers to talk to their children about the risks and dangers online, to help keep them safe from being groomed and sexually exploited.  The film shows how online behavior wouldn’t fly in the real world, and encourages parents to start a conversation with their kids about who they should – and shouldn’t be – friends with online.

The film is part of FCB Inferno’s brand platform for the UK’s largest children’s charity, Barnardo’s. ‘Believe in me’, which launched in September 2016, focuses on the incredible things that can happen when you believe in children.

Barnardo’s 40 plus UK-wide CSE services reported a steep 38% increase in the number of people they supported in 2016-2017. Their project workers have witnessed first-hand how the internet has transformed the nature of abuse and sexual exploitation and want to help parents adapt the protective behaviors they exhibit in the real world, into the online space.

The experiment was purposefully designed to shine a light on the inconsistency between how parents would react to this behavior in the real world, but not preventing the same thing happening to their child online. In the real world, if a random adult wants to be friends with your children, alarm bells would go off and you would get them out of that situation in a hurry. But unfortunately, social media makes things far more difficult.

Directed by Ben Woolf, the film shows a stranger approaching families on the street and asking whether they can ‘follow’ their children. The man sought out families in shopping centres, parks and other public spaces, for a good cause – to raise awareness of the risks posed by strangers ‘following’ young people online. The parents’ reactions range from disbelief to anger, and it highlights the reality that not every online follower is a friend.

The charity has published guidance on ways parents and carers can help keep their children safe online. It tells parents the most important things to do to keep your child safe online are make sure they use age-appropriate sites, use the highest possible privacy settings and parental controls. They also recommend helping children to understand the consequences of sharing images and personal information with people they do not know online.

Nick Gammage, Barnardo’s Director of Policy and Communications:

We believe this powerful film will encourage parents and carers to talk with children about the risks and dangers online. The virtual world can bring these dangers inside the home, which should be a place of safety. Talking can help keep children and young people safer.

FCB Inferno CEO, Frazer Gibney:

This is a provocative video with a powerful message, and one that we hope will resonate with families across the UK. We are proud to have created a tool that sparks debate and that parents can use to start open and important discussions with their kids.


Executive Creative Director – Owen Lee
Head of Strategy – Chris Baker
Senior Strategist – Laura Coleman
Art Director – Jessica Giles
Copywriter – Austin Hamilton
Business Director – Jonny Ray
Senior Account Manager – Hestor Manning-Marsh
Producer – Charlie Coombes
Production company – Beast
Director – Ben Woolf
Producer – Shaun Nickless