CAMPAIGNS: Utilities PR - Yorks Water puts Mini in Hull sewers

Client: Yorkshire Water

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Completion of £200m sewerage scheme in Hull

Timescale: July - August

Budget: Three bottles of spirits for the lifting crew and two bottles of

wine for the car dealership

Since 1998 Yorkshire Water has been constructing a £200m sewerage

system in Hull, ending the decades-old practice of discharging raw

sewage into the Humber Estuary.

The 'HumberCare' project consisted of a new treatment works on the edge

of the city and a 10km tunnel to take sewage away from 350,000 people's



The story had been covered extensively in the local press, but it had

not been picked up much outside Hull. The challenge was to get message

out that Hull had completed such an ambitious project and was no longer

polluting the sea.

Strategy and Plan

Trying to decide what could possibly interest the wider media in a new

sewage system, the team remembered scenes from cult film The Italian Job

in which Mini Coopers were driven through sewers of Turin to make a


With the co-operation of the local Mini dealership and a company

specialising in lifting cargo from ships, the team was able to stage

their own 'Hull Job' version as a press stunt.

A brand-new Mini Cooper was lowered 60ft and reporters took turns to be

driven along the sewer pipes.

Measurement and Evaluation

A dozen journalists attended the event and the story was widely


At a national level, it appeared in press as diverse as The Financial

Times, OK! magazine, The Daily Telegraph (twice) and The Daily Sport,

alongside almost all the regional media.

It was also featured internationally in newspapers in Australia and



Teaming up with the local car dealership that wanted to promote the new

Mini was clearly an inspired move.

The resultant coverage testifies to the strength of the idea and the

daring of Yorkshire Water to pull it off successfuly.

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