How Scottish Water saved £355,000 by sparking behaviour change

Linking damage to Scotland’s natural beauty with flushing wipes down the toilet, Scottish Water not only changed consumer behaviour, but is on track to save £1.4m in 2022.


Scottish Water MW Awards
Source: Scottish Water

Every day, 100 sewers were being blocked across Scotland. For Scottish Water, the annual cost of clearing sewers – usually blocked by wet wipes – amounted to £7m.

Concerned about the risk of raw sewage flooding homes, Scottish Water also wanted to raise awareness of the microplastics in wipes being released onto beaches and into rivers, harmful to bird and marine life.

Teaming up with agency Always Be Content, the water company devised a campaign to reduce sewer blockages, grow brand trust and generate support for a ban on wipes containing plastic.

The ‘Nature Calls’ creative linked choices at home with the impact on nature, urging consumers to stop flushing wipes. The campaign imagery showed wet wipes casting the shadow of a whale’s tail, seahorse and fish.

Running across cinema, radio and outdoor – spearheaded by primetime slots on Channel 4 and Scottish Television – the campaign called on Scots to protect their country’s natural beauty by joining the movement to bin wipes. The TV push was supported by ads on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, as well as influencer marketing.

Picked up by the BBC and STV News, the campaign drove Tesco and Boots to announce they would stop selling wipes containing plastic. Scottish Water’s ad awareness rose by 10%, with 73% of those who had seen the advert recalling the message not to flush wipes down the toilet.

Three months post-campaign, sewer blockages were down 20.3% versus the 10-year average, saving Scottish Water £355,000. Winner of the Marketing Week Award for Regulated Industries, Scottish Water is now on track to save £1.4m in 2022.