Nobody sets out to litter. There's no personal quota. And yet it is a problem. A big problem.
Litter is as much a mindset as it measurable in the tons of waste that ends up in the wrong place - in shared public spaces, waterways and coastlines and along our highways (the cost of keeping Auckland's motorways clear alone would make your hair curl - and the consequences of not cleaning up routinely would literally - if you'll pardon the pun - bring the movement of people and goods to a halt - and all because of a series of small, seemingly inconsequential acts).
The convenient truth is: people can make significant differences to outcomes through simple, daily actions and changing trivial behaviours.
BrandWorld pitched and won the tender for a national campaign to lift awareness of the issue and help change behaviour.
Here's how we approached the task.
Our research showed two main behavioural factors might make the difference. When people feel they are being watched - they are less likely to discard waste casually (let's call it littering). The other was based on the social science learning of 'nudging' - a practice embraced and championed by the UK government. 'Nudging' proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestion to motivate and incentivise people to behave in a pro-social way. The alternative is instruction or implied threat - which, if you have teenagers, you'll know can create pushback and rebellion.
We developed the campaign theme: Let's Put Litter In Its place. That's about as far as the instruction goes. But we crafted the message to be inclusive and to make litter the antagonist - rather than the person ('play the ball, not the person'). The companion message is intended as a meme (a non-genetic thing that passes between humans). 'It's just how we do things around here.'. The idea is to make the message easy to embrace and be self-reinforcing in that self-effacing kiwi way. 'Hey, thanks for saving the planet!'…'No worries, it's just how we do things around here.' The phrase normalises the positive behaviour.
The Television executions - compact 15 Second spots - were written to riff on the idea of being watched - but not in a creepy surveillance way - our conscience - or inner aunty. A person is about to casually drop a package outdoors but suddenly feels all eyes are upon her. She then does the right thing, disposing her waste into the correct bin. The spot winds up with a larger than life character who announces 'It's just how we do things around here'. For the first ads in the series Lucy Lawless (best known for her iconic role as Xena, Warrior Princess - but also an environmental champion) and venerable Kiwi actor Ian Mune. Both play their parts perfectly. In the future we hope to enlist more celebrity faces but also have people willing to share the message through their own social networks.
The TV will be supported with a digital push, including an interactive game to help teach people to recognise which rubbish goes in which bin - general waste contaminates the recycling stream.
The campaign is a departure for BrandWorld - but it also demonstrates our approach of identifying the issue or opportunity, simplifying the message, producing cost-effectively and deploying through media to reach the most people for the least money…which is,…well, it's just how we do things around here.