Division A
Category 2 - Public Service
“Skip a Week” Public Service Campaign

Research/Situation Analysis – The entire Southwest Florida Water Management District (District), which encompasses all or part of 16 counties along the west coast of Florida, entered its fourth year of drought at the end of 2009. To promote water conservation, the District created a “Skip a Week” campaign encouraging residents to skip a week of irrigation during the winter. According to research by the University of Florida, grass doesn’t need to be watered as often during cooler months. The target audience for these messages was all District residents who irrigated their lawns, media, IFAS Extension offices and homeowners associations.

The District used research to help staff develop the messages, plan the campaign and evaluate its success. Previous surveys, commissioned by the District, showed that residents preferred receiving lawn maintenance information from their neighbors and wanted to know simple behaviors to conserve water. Staff used this information to produce five commercials, which were tested with focus groups of area residents. A commercial featuring two neighbors, Tom and Stan, was the most well received and became the foundation of the campaign. Evaluations of the previous media campaigns indicated that an integrated and cohesive public service campaign with consistent messages running on multiple media outlets for a three- to four-month period would improve resident recall of the messages.

Objectives – (1) To increase the public’s awareness of the “Skip a Week” message by 200 percent. (2) To potentially conserve more than 300 million gallons of water by increasing residential “Skip a Week” behaviors by five percent. (3) To reach more than 500,000 people with print and television news coverage on the campaign. (4) To receive more than 1,000 page views on the “Skip a Week” web page. (5) To secure more than 90 million gross impressions with the public service advertising campaign.

Implementation – As part of the “Skip a Week” campaign, the District created a cohesive look by using the same actors, logos and messages on each advertising piece. A web page dedicated to the messages within the campaign, including links to Florida-friendly landscape irrigation techniques, was created. “Skip a Week” banners and signs were distributed to 10 county Extension offices within the District. In addition to distributing two news releases to more than 300 media contacts, messages were promoted on the District’s Facebook page, with nine separate and diverse posts that included a campaign launch notice, commercial links, event coverage and water conservation tips. Throughout the campaign, “Skip a Week” events were held at nine area Lowe’s stores with the commercial actors (Tom and Stan characters) giving landscaping and irrigation tips to customers. We provided information to 1,330 homeowners associations and partnered with area utilities to distribute “Skip a Week” inserts in 435,000 utility bills.

The District included “Skip a Week” messages in its Speakers Bureau speaking engagements and created bookmarks and mouse pad calendars, which were distributed at events that featured the District’s water conservation restroom. During the campaign, the “Skip a Week” information was included in the District’s WaterMatters Magazine and in its electronic newsletter, which is distributed to more than 9,000 email addresses. Messages were distributed through the following paid advertising buys: local television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines, media web sites, area buses, electronic billboards and during previews at IMAX movies in the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. The radio and newspaper advertisements were produced and placed in both English and Spanish. Throughout the campaign, 20 government access television channels ran the District’s messages at no charge. More than 1,000 District residents were surveyed by phone both before and after the campaign to test for recall of messages and associated changes in knowledge, opinions and behavior.

– District staff exceeded all five objectives for the “Skip a Week” campaign: (1) Increased the public’s awareness of the “Skip a Week” message by more than 450 percent based on post-surveys. Of the 52 percent of residents surveyed who remember lawn care ads this winter, 42 percent of them remembered “Skip a Week” with unaided recall; (2) Changed resident’s irrigation behaviors by 19 percent, according to the pre- and post- campaign research, resulting in a potential savings of more than 1.2 billion gallons of water according to District calculations; (3) Secured a reach of more than 900,000 with print and television news media impressions. (4) Tracked more than 1,900 unique page views on the web page; (5) Secured more than 200 million gross impressions with the “Skip a Week” advertising campaign.

Budget – A total of $34,695 was spent for media production. This included producing the television and radio public service announcements as well as the bus wraps. A total of $708,700 was spent on media placement. This included 15,091 radio spots, 13,725 television spots, six radio station web site placements, 12 weekly newspaper ads, five magazine placements and 12 electronic billboards. Approximately 675 staff hours were spent on the development, implementation and evaluation of the “Skip a Week” campaign. By potentially saving over 1.2 billion gallons of water at a cost of $743,395, this campaign cost approximately $0.60 per thousand gallons of water saved.