McGruff Takes Byte out of Cybercrime

Trench coat-clad McGruff the Crime Dog is now part of campaign to raise awareness against cyber crime.

Mcgruff will lend his image, both online and off-, to raise awareness of Internet perils. The identifiable character is appropriate to take on the task, says Don Scott, COO of the CMO Council and one of the campaign’s organizers. Scott estimates 70 percent of adults and 90 percent of children recognize the character. Since the objective is to reach both adults and children, McGruff fit the bill.

“We’re looking to focus on kids, families, parents, and small and medium-size businesses,” said Scott. “While some parents are digitally adept with computers, some are not. In some cases, kids are the lead agent on computers.”

Kids will likely become involved through the Junior CyberGuards program. Older targets of the campaign will find education at bytecrime.org.

The CMO Council spearheaded the initiative and teamed with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), the creators of McGruff. Both parties were ready to take the crime-fighting dog to the Web. “NCPC had started taking out the Internet bad guys and focusing on cyber bullies and identity theft,” said Scott.

Additional partners include Intel, McAfee, Verisign, Gannet’s USA Today, Comcast and CNET Network. The CMO Council hopes to bring in additional partners and expand the operation through those relationships.

“We are looking for additional sponsors who can contribute value to the program,” said Scott. “There are other media organizations out there that could choose to align themselves and become sponsors.”

Each of the existing partners plans to contribute something to the campaign. McAfee will offer its SiteAdvisor software as part of a major download event called the “Mass Immunization of America’s Home Computers.” It also plans to offer McAfee Internet Security Suite software at a discount through the program. Additional downloads include a booklet with information on how to protect yourself and your computers.

Media partners are offering ad space and other real estate to get the message out. USA Today is donating space in its print publication and on its Web site. CNET will run PSAs and will likely take part in other activities. Comcast will also run PSA’s across its broadcast network in November and December.

Intel plans to bring McGruff into its cyber-awareness program for juniors, and is planning activities for the Digital Life consumer show in New York in October. The chip manufacturer already promoted the campaign in a radio media tour at the end of August that reached a potential 13 million people.

“Everybody’s getting involved in unique ways where they can bring something to the table, and it’s cool to see what they’re doing,” said Scott.

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