Sukle is back with another summer water conservation campaign for the Denver Water board. The campaign has evolved from “Use Only What You Need” into “Use Even Less.” I’m amazed and inspired by Sukle’s ability to constantly generate new ideas for water conservation.
And here is an inspiring tidbit about the power of out-of-home advertising from a recent interview with Mike Sukle:
Outdoor and ambient campaigns are used most, not television and radio. Is that a strategic decision?
Absolutely. When the campaign launched, one of our strategies was to embed the idea into the community. Other utilities in the city used TV, newspaper, and radio to communicate to their customers. Their messages had no sense of personality or empathy. They were just telling the people what they thought they needed to know. Denver Water and Use Only What You Need were different. The campaign was developed from talking with customers and understanding how they thought and what they thought. From the beginning the campaign engaged customers and depended on them to help spread the word and convince neighbors that wasting water was wrong. Ambient is an excellent media to engage people and get them to spread a message. Its freshness was a really unexpected (and welcome) departure from how the other guys were communicating. The appeal of ambient is how people interact with it and that they get to be both part of the idea and media vehicle to pass the idea on.
Denver is a great outdoor advertising market because we are an incredibly healthy and active lifestyle. While it can get hot in the summer, there’s virtually no humidity so people are always out walking, running, biking, you name it. The fact that much of the conservation effort is directed at effecting outdoor water use also allowed us to get the message closer to the actual environment and time where it was appropriate. And finally geography played a big role. Out of home allowed us to target the citizens in the Denver Water service area with the message and eliminate the waste of media spilling over to the entire Front Range. It is a very efficient medium because of that.
The ambient and outdoor part seems costly. Is it more effective than other media?
If ambient is well conceived it is an incredibly efficient media. The power of it extends far, far beyond the number of eyeballs that actually drive or walk by. For instance the Running Toilet, the taxi, the bench have been passed around the Internet and seen by millions. The year the large props were first used, they were covered by every news outlet in Denver. One TV station did a three-minute segment on the campaign, can you imagine how much it would have been to produce a three minute TV spot and buy the air-time? The really tough part of ambient is that the results can be difficult to track. That makes some people dubious. But just because you can’t track it, doesn’t mean it didn’t work. It just means you can’t track it.
Hell, yeah. Reach more people for less money. Do something that people want to talk about. Don’t worry about tracking. Just do good ads that delight viewers. Read the full interview at Osocio.