1 in 3 UK businesses have been affected by online hacking. Everyone knows it’s there online but it’s difficult to appreciate the grief it can cause until you see it right in front of you. And most people don’t how to protect themselves or know what to do if they fall victim to criminal activity.
So Hiscox Insurance, a global specialist in small business and cyber insurance; AMV BBDO; The Glue Society and Biscuit Filmworks hacked a UK business in real life. The trio produced a real-world version of hack activity, “attacking” the unsuspecting staff of a London bike store.
The Glue Society directed and edited the experience, which included the building of the replica store – with music and sound design by Groove Q.
To pull off the Real World Hack, Hiscox secretly worked with senior execs at Brompton, the UK’s biggest bike manufacturer, to surprise employees and passers-by at the brand’s location in Shoreditch.
In one day, the staff watched with confusion as a mirror-image shop called 3r0mpton opened over the road, mimicked its storefront, stole its customers and even created doppelgängers of its employees.
(If you’re wondering why cameras were on hand to catch the reactions, staffers were told by their CEO that film crews would be there for the day working on a documentary about small businesses.)
The tactics used against Brompton were identical to the effects of a successful phishing attack, which can impersonate a business or executive and then siphon off everything from deliveries to customers.
At one point, a sudden and confusing crowd of customers descends on the Brompton team, representing how a distributed denial of service attack can overload a company’s servers.
Finally, the scammers even boarded up the real Brompton location and demanded payment to release it, simulating a ransomware attack.
The Glue Society’s Jonathan Kneebone noted, “It often takes an enormous amount of effort to make something seem effortless – but in this instance, all the groundwork paid off. And the result went well beyond a prank into something with more serious overtones.”
The idea was written by Clemenger BBDO Sydney creative team, Josh Aitken and Vanessa Robinson, who were on loan to AMV BBDO. They worked with AMV BBDO creative directors, Clark Edwards and Andre Hull, to develop it.
“Cyber crime lives in the shadows. It’s faceless,” stated Edwards. “Creating something physical to demonstrate the chaos it can bring felt like a fresh new way to talk about the problem.”
As for why Brompton would go along with a stunt so disorienting to its own staffers? The bicycle brand hoped that illustrating a knockoff store would also create more consumer scepticism about off-brand copycats.
“When people copy us with little understanding of the engineering and care behind the design, they are trying to fool our customers, who may go on to buy a potentially dangerous product,” explained Will Butler-Adams, chief executive officer of Brompton Bicycle.
“We wanted to work with Hiscox to highlight these risks, as it is a serious issue and is not limited to the product but also to online cyber fraud, spam emails and viruses that hurt businesses and their customers alike.”
Client: Hiscox UK
Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Andre Hull & Clark Edwards
Senior Creative Team: Josh Aitken & Vanessa Robinson
Director: The Glue Society
Production Company: Biscuit & Revolver/Will O’Rourke
Editing & Post Production: The Glue Society Studios
Music & Sound Design: Groove Q