Campaigns: Public sector - WRAP tells public to end food waste

Campaign: Love Food, Hate Waste
Client: WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme)
PR team: Trimedia and in-house
Timescale: November 2007-June 2008
Budget: Undisclosed, but estimated to be around £130,000

Previous research undertaken by WRAP had established that some 6.7 million tonnes of food waste is generated in UK homes each year. The research also predicted this figure was set to increase for the foreseeable future. Critically, not only were consumers unaware of food waste as an environmental and economic issue, but 90 per cent of all consumers also claimed not to waste food. As such, there is an urgent need to work with consumers, brand-owners and retailers to connect consumers with food waste as an issue, and stop it from reaching landfill.

WRAP's solution was the Love Food, Hate Waste (LFHW) campaign - the first in the world to encourage consumers to reduce in-home food waste.

Objectives

- To introduce the issue of food waste and raise awareness of the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign among all consumers, with a focus on families and 'foodies'

- To encourage consumers to review their own attitudes and behaviour

- To provide solutions and a means of accessing them

- To reduce the amount of food going to landfill by 100,000 tonnes by summer 2008.

Strategy and plan

The first problem the team faced was that this type of campaign had never been undertaken before, and therefore it had no idea how consumers would react. Would it just be seen as another example of a 'nanny state' dictating to the public?

The campaign's first task was to grab attention by amplifying a handful of high-impact messages to resonate among target audiences.

Then the team personalised the campaign by identifying and recruiting appropriate ambassadors, supporters and community groups. These included ex-cookery editor of Good Housekeeping magazine Caroline Marson to help with recipes and Richard Johnson, award-winning journalist and broadcaster, who assisted with chef recruitment. The majority of the UK's leading chefs and food writers lent their support, with Ainsley Harriott, Paul Merrett and Barny Haughton as campaign advocates.

The campaign was launched to more than 30 journalists on 1 November at London's Borough Market, a venue synonymous with campaign values and easily accessible to journalists and film crews. Speakers at the launch included WRAP CEO Liz Goodwin and environment minister Joan Ruddock.

A Love Food Champions community project was launched with the Women's Institute as a mechanism to provide practical advice and gain feedback.

The team also had a stand at the BBC Good Food Show, and a Christmas-to-February campaign drew attention to the 230,000 tonnes of festive food wasted, worth approximately £275m. There was a further push in April focusing on the amount of fruit and vegetables thrown away every year under the banner of 'an apple a day gets thrown away' and The Food We Waste report was launched on 8 May which, for the first time, identified how much of various food groups is wasted.

Measurement and evaluation

More than 550 pieces of coverage appeared across the media, generating 537 million opportunities to see and 163 million opportunities to hear. The team calculated an AVE of over £11m. Evaluation found 100 per cent coverage by key titles with 99 per cent of all print coverage favourable.

Results

More than 153,000 people visited and contributed to the LFHW website, and consumer feedback by WRAP found an additional 1.45 million households are now committed to throwing away less food. This means a reduction of almost 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide that would have been produced by the waste food, and translates into potential savings for consumers of almost £240m.

SECOND OPINION - ROBERTA FUKE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BRAY LEINO

I love this campaign. Food waste is a huge issue and yet the environmental impact has, to date, received very little media attention, hence low consumer awareness. This campaign has made a difference.

Its beauty lies in its use of 'shock tactics' without alienating the target audience. Finger-wagging has been proven to have a negative rather than positive impact, so I particularly liked the approach of this campaign, which transformed the issue into a national challenge.

Trimedia's use of celebrity chefs to champion the cause was well thought through with different personality types appealing to different audiences. Importantly, the campaign didn't rely too heavily on the celebrity factor as this could easily have distracted from rather than enhanced the importance of the message. I do suspect, however, that the messaging was strong enough to deliver impact without them.

When it comes to essential long-term behaviour change, it is the ongoing engagement with audiences that is the most challenging. When it comes to next steps I would advocate more word of mouth with a broader base of 'champions' as well as exploiting social networking.

As with all of these campaigns, the challenge now is overcoming complacency among consumers and media. Economic pressures as much as a desire to 'do the right thing' environmentally will no doubt play a key role in ensuring that we continue to love food and hate waste. So the credit crunch does have an upside.

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