New House Rules

Shelter Scotland

Changes in private rental legislation in 2017 meant Shelter Scotland faced unprecedented demand for advice, from both tenants and landlords. We helped them cope, with an innovative campaign and a friendly, personable avatar answering questions, 24/7.

Supporting Scotland's renters

Shelter Scotland is the leading charity providing advice and advocacy to people living in private rented property across the country. We worked with them to develop a creative concept and design approach - plus a digital solution in the form of a friendly chatbot - to handle a huge upsurge in questions following a change in legislation.

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All change for the private sector

The Scottish Government introduced sweeping changes to the laws about private rented accommodation in December 2017. While acknowledging the new legislation would provide clarity and protection for both tenants and landlords, Shelter predicted there’d be widespread confusion in the short term. They were concerned their helpline and Live Chat services would be overwhelmed, and approached us for a solution.
The charity asked us to develop a campaign to work across print, digital and social channels. Reaching the target audience - mostly young, urban and transient, with a high ratio of minority groups - would be challenging.

Keeping it simple

We developed a distinctive, confident message around the campaign concept of New House Rules. Using a combination of familiar household objects and wordplay, we made potentially complex legislative changes easy to understand. A distinctive illustrative style across a wide range of collateral brought key messages to life.

Introducing Ailsa

While our campaign made a good job of explaining the changes, we knew a lot of people would still have questions - potentially too many for Shelter’s support staff to cope with. So we built a chatbot called Ailsa. She’s a friendly, helpful, ginger-haired young Scotswoman - and also an acronym for Artificially Intelligent Lightweight Shelter Assistant. Using Microsoft’s Bot framework, we were able to build her quickly and within budget. Then we deployed her to answer the most common questions from tenants, 24/7.

1000s of new conversations

The campaign launched just as the new legislation came into effect in December 2017, running for three months and achieving some impressive results. Ailsa alone made a lot of friends, interacting with users around 6,500 times compared to just 4,000 for the charity’s Live Chat during the whole of the previous year.

Key results:

  • a 116% increase in awareness (confirmed in YouGov survey)
  • 621 information pack downloads
  • 6,218 YouTube views
  • 34,319 Facebook video views
  • 5,197 sponsored content click-throughs

Our work for Shelter Scotland shows how it’s not always about revenue and profit - sometimes the goal is to convey information and provide a service for the public good. We created a focused, cost-effective campaign full of wit and style, engaging a hard-to-reach audience and providing a timely solution to a specific, temporary need.