Whistle and wash: A PR campaign that linked two-minute versions of hits by local musicians with a water-saving drive involving reduced shower times has scooped an award. Picture: 123RF/ WARRENGOLDSWAIN
Whistle and wash: A PR campaign that linked two-minute versions of hits by local musicians with a water-saving drive involving reduced shower times has scooped an award. Picture: 123RF/ WARRENGOLDSWAIN

Can a catchy song change the ablutions habits of the inhabitants of a major city?

Financial services company Sanlam thought so and their attempt won an award for the best public relations (PR) campaign of 2017.

Cape Town was desperate to persuade residents to reduce water consumption in the face of a severe drought, but research conducted in 2017 showed barely 50% were listening to the city’s messages.

So the Atmosphere Communications PR agency and its shareholder, the King James advertising group, persuaded 10 of SA’s most popular music acts to record two-minute versions of their hits. Residents were encouraged to download the songs and shower only for as long as the music was playing.

The campaign was named the top PR campaign of 2017 on Sunday in Johannesburg at the annual Prism awards staged by the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa.

In the space of four days, performers such as Kwesta, Springbok Nude Girls, Rouge, Youngsta and Jimmy Nevis recorded shortened versions of their hits, which were compiled into a new album. Prism chief judge Marilyn Watson says that in the six weeks following the recordings, Atmosphere and King James used every platform available.

"They created a shower songs online hub and a SoundCloud channel, used Sanlam’s website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels and loaded the songs onto Spotify, iTunes and Google Play," she says.

"Songs were hosted on a hub for free streaming and download, along with practical water-saving tips. The songs also featured on all major music-streaming platforms."

The results were impressive. The Two-Minute Shower campaign received coverage in 95% of mainstream media in SA, 1.7-million people watched the accompanying online videos, and there were thousands of downloads.

The water campaign also featured a mobile karaoke shower booth that travelled around Cape Town.

It’s impossible to quantify the campaign’s direct effect on water consumption, but research showed an increase in awareness of the need to conserve water.

The campaign also set out to position Sanlam as a leading voice in the drought crisis and related conversation.

"The campaign of the year award represents the best in PR. We are looking for something exceptional, unique, innovative, creative and a campaign that demonstrates obvious results for the client," says Watson.

"The winning campaign successfully and innovatively addressed an issue of national importance," she says.

 

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