CAMPAIGNS: Public Affairs - Pollution solution found in pictures

Client: Environmental Systems Products (St. Louis, MO)

Client: Environmental Systems Products (St. Louis, MO)

Client: Environmental Systems Products (St. Louis, MO)

PR Team: The Vandiver Group (St. Louis, MO)

Campaign: Gateway Clean Air Program

Time Frame: March 1999 to March 2000

Budget: About dollars 400,000

Children playing under blue skies; a child fishing with his


These are not images normally associated with automobile emissions, but

they were used to depict just that.

Environmental Systems Products, a contractor for the Missouri Department

of Natural Resources, hired The Vandiver Group to prepare St. Louis

residents for a new car-emissions testing program that would help reduce

air pollution to meet federal standards.


The primary goals of the communications plan were to strengthen

awareness of the air pollution problem and to make the public understand

that the new program will improve air quality. ’Our job was to change

their perspective on the whole issue and to get a new message out that

was positive and focused on the future,’ says Vandiver’s Terry


Research showed that, although people felt it was important to have

clean air for their children and their future, they were reluctant to

bring their cars to the new stations and were wary of wait times given

the limited number of locations.

’One of the biggest challenges we faced was that people already had a

negative view of the plan before we were even involved,’ says


’Some people felt that the government was stepping in too much or that

the program was not needed.’

Based on focus group research, Vandiver decided to have the Gateway

Clean Air Program steer clear of negative images like dirty air and

traffic jams.


Vandiver created a campaign loaded with positive images: children, pets,

families - all under clear, blue skies. Focus group research helped

determine the campaign’s name and logo, which features the state of

Missouri surrounded by greenery and sunny skies. Vandiver distributed

press kits to local media and the legislature five months before the

emissions stations opened to the public. The agency placed ads in

automobile magazines and sent releases to local and national papers and

broadcast outlets.

To address the public’s concerns about inconvenience, Vandiver helped

create a hotline that people could call with questions. Editorial board

visits and speakers panels were set up six weeks prior to opening, and

during opening week, emissions testing stations held ’open houses.’


More than 50,000 cars have been tested at the 12 new stations since

opening April 5. Over 450 news briefs and editorials covered the

program’s efforts, and news also appeared on all five area television

stations. St. Louis residents wrote letters to the editor in testimonial

of a positive experience, and the Gateway Clean Air program was awarded

many honors for generating awareness about the program.


Because of its success, TVG has been named agency of record for year two

of the Program. It will be responsible for media relations and creating

awareness about the project through PR and special events.

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