After a sewage overflow caused by wet wipes, Tauranga City Council leapt into action. It launched a campaign that talked in a comfortable way about a private topic: what people flush down the toilet. By opening the dialogue, it raised sustainability awareness and significantly reduced the amount of wet wipes flushed down the toilet.
The ‘Save Our Pipes from Wipes’ campaign highlighted the challenges of a growing population and products that can create unsustainable behaviours. The Council chose to communicate with a non-blame approach using a slogan to encourage change.
The weight of wipes removed from Tauranga’s wastewater system each week was the size of a small elephant (two tonnes). So a cute elephant character was used to talk about the problem. The character helped to broach an ‘icky’ topic via the metaphor of ‘the elephant in the room’.
The campaign focused strongly on digital marketing and included radio, bus backs, billboards, media coverage, posters, brochures and badges. Social media marketing reached more than 113,000 people and generated over 143,000 video views.
As a result of the campaign, the number of sewerage overflows caused by wet wipes reduced by 40%.