Campaigns: Environment - EEDA's carbon plan was a super idea ..

Campaign: Cut Your Carbon
Client: East of England Development Agency (EEDA)
PR team: In-house
Timescale: March 2008-August 2009
Budget: More than £100,000

EEDA launched Cut Your Carbon to inspire and support communities in the east of England to reduce their carbon emissions. The team wanted a campaign that would engage communities in the often very dry and serious subject of climate change.

Objectives

- To engage people to take action on climate change

- To identify and motivate individual 'carbon heroes' to reach out to their communities

- To support visible community projects such as solar panels on buildings and surveys with thermal imaging cameras.

Strategy and plan

The team chose the theme of 'looking for carbon heroes' as a light-hearted and engaging approach that also posed questions such as what is a carbon hero, and how can I make a difference.

A dedicated website was set up to help communities measure their carbon footprint, get practical advice and use social networking tools. A carbon footprint calculator was developed to accompany the campaign. Experienced community support workers were enlisted to offer one- to-one guidance and support, with backing from sponsors Anglian Water and E.ON. The campaign included a competition to win up to £200,000 per community, to help areas make their carbon reduction projects a reality.

Regular monthly e-newsletters were sent out to generate interest in the campaign and motivate people to take action. The newsletters were tailored three groups: communities already working to improve their carbon footprint; individuals taking action and looking for a community to join; and individuals wanting to take action by themselves.

The campaign was supported by online advertising and a marketing toolkit including leaflets, posters and wording for newsletters and websites, which was shared with partners. The Cut Your Carbon team attended community events to talk about the campaign and EEDA hosted a Cut Your Carbon Academy for prospective and active community leaders. The event included workshops showcasing best practice and a 'carbon dating' speed networking event. Press materials were supported by photographs of real-life and model 'carbon heroes' to accompany the campaign coverage.

Measurement and evaluation

Throughout the campaign, more than 100 pieces of media coverage appeared in print, TV, radio and online. BBC Look East and ITV Anglia featured extended reports.

Results

Since its launch, the campaign website has received 21,000 unique visits. In total, 116 communities have registered online and the most active groups have around 2,000 members in total. The community carbon calculator has been developed into a national resource by the Energy Saving Trust. In total, nine community projects have been allocated funding. The campaign won the Integrated Communications award at the CIPR East Anglia PRide awards.

SECOND OPINION - Gerry Hopkinson, Co-founder, Unity

I like this campaign. It's fun and engaging without being preachy and it is truly integrated.

The best thing about it is the way it uses humour and that very British sense of taking the piss to reach out to people and build some rapport.

I challenge anyone to have a look at those kooky old people in their superhero suits and not crack a smile.

Why is cracking a smile important? Well, having been lucky enough to have worked with Franny Armstrong and the rest of the crew at Spanner Films promoting the movie Age of Stupid, I can tell you that the number one tool in any campaigner's box is humour. Make people smile, make them chuckle, let them see the silly side and you're halfway there.

Of course, humour is only a means to an end. The real strength of this campaign is in the way it engages and references community heroes and provides both validation and inspiration for other would-be carbon cutters.

Global warming is a confusing, complex issue for most of us and the apocalyptic predictions that rain down from all sides only increase the feeling that we are powerless to do anything about it.

But this campaign focuses on the solutions. It says, 'Look at Mr X, he's doing his bit, look at this village, they've got a great idea (Brickendon Liberty Watt Watchers take a bow). What can you do?' The carbon calculator is pretty cool too.

Nice work comrades.

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