Childline is a Lifeline


Childline is a Lifeline

Christmas should be a magical time of year for all children. But for thousands of young people each year, the holidays are a time of fear and abuse. This year, the NSPCC wanted to focus their integrated Christmas campaign on one thought: the life-saving nature of Childline.

Our brief

We needed to develop a hard-hitting and urgent campaign that gives our audiences insight into what Christmas means for children being abused and encourages them to donate to support the NSPCC. To answer this brief, Open developed the campaign proposition, ‘When Christmas means abuse, Childline is a lifeline.’ 

We made a suite of campaign creative materials, including social, user-generated content and OOH, with the cornerstone being a DRTV ad that brings ‘Childline is a lifeline’ to life. In this ad, we wanted our audience to feel as close to the cause as possible, and give them a real insight into the life-saving conversations between children and counsellors.

Our approach 

We wanted our storytelling to be authentic and realistic, taking guidance from NSPCC counsellors and anonymised children’s testimonials from calling Childline over Christmas.  

To deepen our understanding of the service, we spent an afternoon talking to NSPCC Childline counsellors, to gain an understanding of what it’s really like to be supporting children each day of Christmas – and helping to save children’s lives. 

This year, NSPCC chose to tell the story of just one child, helping the audience build an emotional connection with the characters portrayed. 

By using a split-screen device, we were able to convey one of the key thoughts from our NSPCC counsellor: that when they are on the phone to a child, there’s no one else in the world. And it’s almost like they are sitting next to them. In this role, the counsellor’s job is to listen to every sound – spoken and unspoken – to understand what the child needs, and if they are in immediate danger. 

Senior Copywriter, Lucy Silver says: “It was a real honour to be a part of such an important project for NSPCC. Meeting with the Childline counsellors was a powerful and moving experience, and I really hope we have brought their work to life in a way that demonstrates this life-saving service to our audiences and encourages them to donate and support it now and in the future.”

The production 

To bring our concept to life, we worked with Director Jesse Lewis Reese, and Armoury Production to craft and produce our 60-second ad. Jesse’s eye for detail and thoughtful directorial style was essential in drawing the powerful, emotive performances from our actors. We also worked with intimacy coordinator Richard McIver to make sure our actors felt safe and comfortable throughout the shoot. 

Associate Creative Director, James Dawe says: 

“For NSPCC and all of us, authenticity was key in how we told this story. We really wanted to focus on that one conversation and build that relationship between the child and the counsellor. The split-screen device really helped in that respect – but almost because you don’t really notice it. You’re so focused on that one call. That one conversation.” 

Creative Director, Jamie Tierney says:

“I think the film brilliantly captures the moment of courage when a child first contacts Childline, and the moment of relief when they realise that someone is there for them to talk to. For many, it’s a life-saving call that changes their life forever. The power of this ad lies in the unspoken words, the painful silences as Kara talks to the Childline Counsellor. Jessie's sensitive direction and the brilliant cast helped make this connection feel authentic and true to life, putting a spotlight on this valuable work that happens all through Christmas.”

“Childline is a Lifeline” aired from November 2023.

Thank you so much to all the team who helped bring this piece to life.


Creative director: Jamie Tierney 

Associate Creative Director: James Dawe

Senior Copywriter: Lucy Silver

Account Director: Ben Eden-Davies

Senior Project Manager: Iona Marchant


Associate Head of Acquisition and Products: Sam Thompson

Senior Fundraiser: Ria Saigal 

Director: Jesse Lewis Reece

Executive Producer: Matt Hichens

Producer: Robyn Warwick

Production Assistant: Nesse Appleton Smith

Location Manager: Mike Glynn

Location Trainee: Daniel Malinowski

1st AD: Yasmin Good

Runner: Yaz Evans and Jasmine Clark

Work Experience Runner: Shumi Torrance

DOP: Jake Gerrard

Focus Puller: Em Tuner

2nd AC: Dee Iskrzsnska

Video Playback: Robert Troft

Gaffer: Al Rice

Spark: Oscar Whaley and Marcus Luc Kartal

Trainee Spark: Tsvetina Rassovska

Sound: Brendan Crehan

Art Director: Jade Rache

Wardrobe: Karen Smyth

HMU and wardrobe assist: Melissa Davies

Intimacy Co-Ordinator: Richard McIver

Childline is a Lifeline
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