Kidde educates Californians on dangers of carbon monoxide

Kidde, makers of carbon monoxide alarms and other home-safety products, and agency Fahlgren Mortine mounted a campaign to promote CO safety in California.

Client: Kidde (Mebane, NC)
Agency: Fahlgren Mortine (Cleveland, OH)
Campaign: Detecting the Silent Killer: California Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Campaign?
Duration: June - November 2011
Budget: $50,000

Last summer, California enacted a law mandating carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in single-family and two-unit homes. Kidde, makers of CO alarms and other home-safety products, and long-time agency Fahlgren Mortine mounted a campaign to promote CO safety in the state.

“Focus groups [revealed many] people didn't know about CO alarms and were unaware of the risk,” explains Kidde communications manager Heather Caldwell. “A robust PR campaign was important to educate homeowners on the importance of an alarm and why it's a simple solution to protect families.”

Objectives were to increase awareness of CO sources and the need for alarms by 20% and drive a 500% incremental sales increase for Kidde's CO alarm category.

Messaging was driven through ads, earned media, and owned channels.

“People have to hear it more than once before they take action,” explains agency VP Emily Lauer. “Kidde approaches advertising in the PSA vein. It's not blatant product advertising. It carries education, [so] media relations and the ads work together.”

Media outreach was concentrated around the July effective date and around the state-declared "Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week" in November.

Pitching to daily newspapers, TV stations, and radio talk shows began in June. Officials from local fire departments, California State Firefighters' Association, and Safe Kids California (with which Kidde had an existing national partnership) served as spokespeople.

Ads and pitches communicated that retail partner Home Depot sells the alarms.

Kidde launched in 2010 on behalf of a coalition established to get the law passed. It was used to communicate safety tips, law details, and product information.

A landing page highlighting educational components was established on It linked

Law-related messaging and media coverage were posted on Facebook and Twitter.

June to December, sales in California of Kidde's CO alarm category increased an average of 912% compared to those months in 2010.

A survey to determine awareness isn't complete, but Lauer believes the goal was significantly surpassed given sales performance.

Unique visitors to the landing page increased 923% from June to December 2011 compared to the same time in 2010. Kidde reports visitors were on the page three times longer in 2011 compared to 2010.

More than 60 stories (upward of 3 million impressions) ran across all California markets.

The team is exploring options for continuing to raise awareness as the law's anniversary approaches and preparing to target property managers and landlords for the law's multi-family home phase in January 2013.

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