Audio/Visual Tools of Public Relations; Category C-5; Video--Public Service/One Minute or Less
"TAPP: Think About Personal Pollution" PSA Entry
RB Oppenheim Associates, City of Tallahassee and Gary Yordon

Research/Situation Analysis:  The Florida Department of Environmental Protection reports that more than half of the pollution that enters Florida's surface waters and more than 75 percent of the pollutions in Florida's lakes are attributable to nonpoint source (NPS) runoff--water pollution that cannot be traced to a specific point of origin.  NPS pollution is generated primarily through human activity. Potential sources include pet waste, fertilizers and pesticides, failing septic systems, urban stormwater runoff, construction and trash. During a rainstorm, water that is not absorbed into the soil washes across the land surface, accumulating natural or man-made pollutants and conveying them to surface water or groundwater. In recent years, pollution to local waterways has become an increasing problem for Leon County and the surrounding area. Waterways throughout the jurisdiction of the City of Tallahassee (COT) are now under federal mandate to meet water quality standards.  In an effort to raise awareness of NPS pollution, COT's Stormwater Management Division partnered with video producer Gary Yordon and RB Oppenheim Associates (RBOA), respectively, to produce and place three TV Public Service Announcements (PSA) that had been specifically designed for the "TAPP: Think About Personal Pollution" campaign following formal research.  The creative team used the results of two focus groups (held October 2008) to determine artistic direction and innovative messaging for the production of two new PSAs that would be compatible with the existing ad.  The media campaign ran for four months, March--June 2009, and specifically targeted residents of Tallahassee.    

Objectives:  To conduct a TV PSA campaign that would: (1) increase awareness of the TAPP program and slogan by 20 percent among COT residents; (2) increase the picking-up of pet waste by 5 percent by creating awareness among COT residents of  the dangerous amounts of bacteria found in pet waste; (3) increase the number of city residents using non-phosphorus fertilizer on their yards by 5 percent; (4) influence 30 percent of area residents to make changes in their daily lives to prevent NPS pollution and protect our groundwater; and (5) receive a three-to-one ratio of paid-to-free spots on local TV media outlets throughout the four-month campaign. Results for objectives 1--4 would be determined by a survey of Tallahassee residents, with objective 5 evaluated by media affidavits.    

Implementation:  Utilizing the findings from the October 2008 focus groups, the TAPP creative team identified key elements and messaging needed for the PSAs to effectively influence area residents to change their behavior to prevent NPS pollution.  From their research, the creative team produced two new visually appealing TV PSAs to engage viewers and drive them to the campaign more information.  The first spot, "Things Like Poop," featured a touchy subject but, through humor and suggestive images, it engaged audiences and educated them on the negative environmental effects of pet waste. The second PSA, "Duckman," featured a man in a duck costume discussing how behaviors, including the use of phosphorus fertilizers, affect Tallahassee's water quality.  This PSA was taped in recognizable locations around Tallahassee, evoking the emotion in viewers that they have a personal responsibility to protect local water. One previously written and produced PSA, "Little Yellow Duck," visually illustrated the concept of stormwater runoff and the negative effects for the Tallahassee community.  The spots were conceived by Gary Yordon and produced by Evolution Media.  RBOA developed a media plan that ran from March--June 2009, reaching viewers in Tallahassee, Leon County and beyond.  The television stations airing the PSAs included five broadcast and 17 cable networks which were chosen based on ratings, reach, demographics and coverage areas.

Evaluation: Based on the telephone survey of 669 area residents that was conducted at the end of the campaign: (1) nearly 67 percent of respondents were aware of the TAPP slogan, an increase of nearly 28 percent from the 2007 survey, surpassing our goal of 20 percent. Respondents were also able to recall all three PSAs, "Things Like Poop," "Little Yellow Duck" and "Duckman" at very high rates of nearly 61, 55 and 44 percents, respectively.  (2) The "Things Like Poop" PSA generated the largest influence, garnering a 27 percent increase of residents picking up their pets' waste, surpassing our goal of 5 percent.  (3) When asked about the use of fertilizer, more than 18 percent of respondents indicated their change to non-phosphorus fertilizer, surpassing our goal of 5 percent.  (4) Additionally, the PSAs influenced almost 40 percent of respondents to change their daily habits regarding personal pollution, exceeding our goal of 30 percent.  (5) Finally, RBOA delivered a TV media plan with a budget of $136,933 that included 10,181 bonus spots valued at $136,458, for a 99.6 percent match--almost three times the objective (i.e., a paid-to-free ratio of 1:1 rather than the required 3:1).  The PSAs (which also ran at no charge on COT's TV station June-November 2009 and on its YouTube channel) were hugely successful, garnered extensive media coverage and community "buzz," changed behavior and earned the production team an Emmy and an Addy!

Budget:  For the four-month campaign, a budget totaling $160,683 was spent with an additional $156,648 donated in kind--more than a 97 percent match! All production costs, including research, conceptualization and creation for the two new TV spots totaled $23,750.  The TV media budget was $136,933, with an additional $136,458 in donated airtime.  RBOA's PR and media-buying services--more than 160 hours of professional time--valued at $20,190, were provided in-kind.