Inflows to Perth’s drinking water dams were the worst on record in the winter of 2015. The spring that followed was the warmest spring on record, which resulted in a spike in water use. This required Water Corporation to take a number of steps to balance the community’s water needs for 2015-16. Water Corporation needed to persuade householders to reduce their water use, which was significantly over target and heading higher.
In recent years, the Water Corporation had taken significant steps to put plans in place to secure WA’s water supply. Some may say that the people of WA became a little less rigorous about saving water.
The data showed that 70% of water use is residential, and of that most of the potential for over use is outside the home, especially in the garden, which accounts for over 40% of all household use.
The Brand Agency was commissioned to create a behaviour change campaign. The campaign had to address the barrier of complacency and stimulate a clear action.
We identified the keystone habit that has the most impact on water use and also drives other water use habits – over-watering the garden when it’s hot and dry.
For most gardens, which in WA often have fixed spray sprinkler systems, ten minutes per station should be more than enough to sustain a healthy garden. The problem is, many people water for a lot longer.
Our strategy was to focus on that single behaviour and ask for just one small action: reduce your watering times by two minutes per station on your watering days. We wanted this to appear an easy task to undertake and we adopted the campaign line:
'Whatever you do, just drop 2'
The simplicity and rhyme of this catchcry makes it is easy to remember and understand the desired action.
We then collaborated with behavioural economics experts to hone the messaging and tone to follow accepted behaviour change models.
If the challenge wasn’t tough enough already, the summer turned out to be one of the hottest and driest on record. Not only did we need to effect immediate behaviour change, we need a campaign framework that would allow the messaging to be responsive to the weather, at short notice.
The campaign launched on 22 November 2015 and continued through the summer months.
We realised that the campaign was about choice architecture. That is, understanding the way in which decisions are influenced by how choices are presented. By providing the right kind of behavioural nudge we can stimulate behaviour change.
We created an iconic friendly style that avoided preaching and enabled a friendly tone of voice. Rather than point the finger, we wanted to be inclusive and appeal to every member of the community to join together to make a difference.
The campaign comprised a suite of tools and tips to help customers understand what was needed, and why. The media was designed to be intensive with a high message frequency, so that it became salient. We needed water saving to become, and appear to be, the social norm.
The integrated campaign that we delivered comprised television, radio, online advertising, press, out of home, social media and PR. We used responsive media to communicate messages relevant to the prevailing weather and we regularly provided updates on how much water the community was using.
Post campaign research showed that of those exposed to the campaign, 55% reported they had taken action to reduce water use.
At the start of summer, the Perth area had used almost 9 billion litres more than the target. By the end of the campaign water use was brought back to target.
Furthermore, a study by Ernst & Young revealed an estimated saving to WA’s water resources of 7.2 billion litres.
The campaign has had a dramatic and measurable impact by changing behaviour.
- Outdoor and Ambient