A flush of awards for District’s flushables video campaign

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Communications team members Amanda Wegner and Amy Steger hold some of the awards received for the Flushables video campaign.
Communications team members Amanda Wegner and Amy Steger have their hands full…of awards: a National Environmental Achievement Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and two awards (ADDYs) from the American Advertising Federation – Madison; one Silver in the Public Service/Film, Video & Sound category and one Judge’s
Choice award. Not pictured are the four MUSE Creative Awards and the WisCOMsin Award of Distinction from Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Madison Chapter… they would need more hands.

Toilets are not trashcans. This essential message is central to many of the District’s public outreach efforts and interactive educational tools. In 2023, Amy Steger and Amanda Wegner of the District’s Communications team developed a flushables video campaign to give this pollution prevention message a fresh take and targeted reach – and won eight awards for their work!

Video content’s role in how we learn

Amy, the District’s communications and marketing specialist, advocated for the idea of investing in a professionally produced series of animated videos on flushables geared to children. Video content, in addition to being a dominant format for how consumers learn about brands and messages, also allows for flexibility in how and where it gets out, she says.

While young audiences were the primary target, it was important that the videos appeal to all ages and demonstrate the complicated process of trash entering the wastewater system in a simple way. “Kids can become superhero advocates in their own home once they understand an issue,” says Amy, “but we also need to reach the parents to help reinforce it.”

Creativity and strategy are necessary partners

Amanda, communications and public affairs director, and Amy worked collaboratively to refine the topics, decide on video length and quantity, and provide guidance to the agency Fatbird Creative to ensure alignment with District messaging and goals. The agency worked to execute the vision, providing bold visuals and animation while Amy wrote the scripts for each video.

The results of this work are three 30-second videos in a public service announcement style, allowing for a descriptive and visual delivery that retains viewers’ attention. The videos have individual messages but are clearly linked in theme and style.

“One of the strengths of doing a video series is that each one has a distinct message yet together they tell a cohesive story,” says Amy.

This makes them flexible in where and when they are used and takes advantage of building on repetition while staying fresh.

While the creative product is the bright and shiny object of a project like this, designing a strategic and effective marketing plan is just as essential. Amy developed and executed a multi-channel outreach plan for the videos that included YouTube ads, social media ads and on-screen advertising at Point Cinema in Madison during the summer of 2023, as well as organic platforms like our website, Facebook and Instagram feeds. Analyzing the results of the campaign was also done to inform future efforts and investments.

A screenshot of an otter in a river from the Flushables video series.
A screenshot of a toilet and a trashcan from the Flushables video series.

Icing on the cake

Amy and Amanda were thrilled with the results of the campaign – the videos were in front of local viewers over 1.5 million times from the metrics analyzed. Being able to use the videos for future outreach and education is also a good investment in the District’s pollution prevention tools. And winning seven awards and having your efforts recognized?

“It feels pretty cool,” says Amy, “especially since it’s the third year in a row the District has received a NACWA award. The ADDY award is recognition from our peers – people doing the best of the best in marketing and advertising work locally. The WisCOMsin Award from PRSA Madison offers statewide recognition. And the MUSE awards are a huge deal! Our videos were up against international giants like NBC-Universal. It’s exciting stuff.”

Watch the videos on the special Flushables webpage created for the campaign.

By Jessica Spiegel