Litter and it will hurt

This 2007 campaign by the Department of Ecology at the State of Washington (website, Facebook, Twitter) aimed to reduce littering by:

  • informing potential litterers that their littering will be spotted and that they will be fined for it
  • engaging citizens to report offenders

Litter and it will hurt 1 Litter and it will hurt 2

While carrying out its market research, the Department of Ecology easily spotted its target market.  The below is lifted from their Creative Rationale, here:

Reaching litterers is tricky. Litterers are typically a young, entrenched group of people who already know they are engaged in socially unacceptable or illegal behavior. Focus groups with people who admitted to littering confirmed that it is a selfish and sometimes rebellious act. Environmentally positive messages, pleas that tried to instill guilt and messages that bolster a sense of civic pride fell flat with this group. In fact, these messages turned off this group and risked hitting their rebellious “hot buttons”, encouraging them to litter more.

Since 2002, Ecology’s various research studies continue to show that litter is reduced when motorists believe they may be caught and pay significant fines if they litter. Research also shows that most people in Washington will report litterers if given the opportunity.

Having learned that the target market showed very little guilt with regards to littering, the focus of the campaign turned on the financial aspect of the act: ‘Litter and it will hurt’ was born.

The below video was also released as part of the campaign:

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