‘We created a monster, something to fear and something to talk about’
Stuart White, Head of Media Relations at Thames Water recounted the campaign of Fatberg, to an audience at this year’s Comms Con who were captivated by what can only be described as grossness.
Whitechapel, 2017, the largest mass of fat, wet wipes and non-biodegradable matter was discovered by Thames Water. Stuart and the team at Thames Water used this discovery to deliver a campaign that warned of the issues of what we are putting in our sewers.
The four key highlights of Stuart’s session were:
1) Taking the story to the press (Evening Standard)
The team knew they had a story, but hadn’t foreseen how big it would be. They were instantly busy with media enquiries from, press, TV and radio.
2) The media showed up in their masses to Whitechapel
Greg James went into the depths of Fatberg, and surprisingly the press wanted to smell it - Stuart kindly shared that it smelt of gone off meat and toilets (sorry if you’re reading this during lunch). There was so much interest that they had to move the press to China Town (to go into the sewers and met Fatberg for themselves) and the engineers were able to get to breaking Fatberg down. ‘Fatberg became a celebrity’ Stuart White
3) Humanised the campaign
Sewper Heroes to the rescue- they gave the engineers personas, Greg James named one of the engineers Natberg, getting the nation onboard behind their plight to remove the mass. In humanising the campaign they increased engagement, now expecting to see a continued decrease in blockages.
4) Took a jovial campaign to drive a serious message
Thames Water created a campaign that was picked up internationally, but wanted to demonstrate the severity of the issue. They did this by continuing the conversation and the Whitechapel example is continuously referenced internationally when other Fatbergs are found. This was done to encourage a national behavioural change with ‘Bin it, don’t block it’.
Thames Water took a different approach to comms with this campaign, they were daring with their language, opened up the sewers and humanised their spokespeople. This brought the campaign to life and put the topic on the agenda. Although they had been communicating in a way that brought a bit of ‘fun’ to the narrative, at its core they were driving forward a very serious message.
For more information about the communications industry, contact Naomi.