Welcome to The Okanagan Basin Water Board and Make Water Work
The Okanagan valley is a postcard-perfect place to live, and yet it’s also one Canada’s most water stressed regions. The Okanagan Basin Water Board came to Habit to assist in their annual behavior changing initiative — a campaign aimed at residential outdoor water consumption. We dove right in.
Marketing Strategy, Creative Campaign, Illustration, Writing
Make Water Work is delivered through Okanagan WaterWise, the public outreach and education program of the OBWB. MWW has largely been a communication and education campaign that promotes water-efficient outdoor watering and landscaping behaviours through a variety of yearly communication campaign techniques and tools. It also attempts to engage residents and encourage participation through a community pledge registration activity.
MWW’s focus on influencing and changing behaviours sets it apart from typical water consumption campaigns aimed at general awareness. The MWW campaign has several interactive elements that connect its audience to the cause and to an individual goal, allowing them to reach for, and achieve, that goal as part of a larger community effort.
Make Water Work is a leading edge water conservation campaign, combining creative methods with strategic research to effectively connect and engage with the Okanagan Basin community to influence improved outdoor water consumption behaviours.
We positioned the actions involved as paramount to protecting water resources in the Okanagan Valley. We needed to trigger all of the possible motivating factors for the audience by demonstrating the personal, environmental, communal and economic benefits of conserving outdoor water use.
We created a campaign and additional support materials to raise awareness on how to “Make Water Work”. Our strategy included the use of influencers, local community affiliates, a social media campaign, digital advertising, billboards, bus benches, physical activations, swag items and website updates.
It’s not enough to tell people to “make water work.” We need to enlighten our Okanagan residents by highlighting how to make water work. How can we make water smarter? Better? Faster? Supported by factual info, these messages informed those who need to ‘Make Water Work’ smarter rather than harder. It’s really up to us how water works.
One of our key messages was targeted at residents with lawns. Watering between the hours of dusk and dawn is the best way to soak your lawn and retain water in the roots.
We also advised people to try using beautiful low water plants like lavender. This treatment was sprinkled throughout the valley on bus benches.
A robust partner kit was developed to help spread the message. It included cute waterwise plant illustrations and outdoor watering infographics.
A series of “how-to” posts were also created.
Our digital ads led people to the website where people could pledge to use water smarter, thereby entering their community in the contest.
To increase engagement with our audience, we asked them to pledge to reduce water waste on the website. This tracked engagement by each community and at the end of the season, a winner was announced. We created a series of social post videos & graphics that people could share, boasting about their pledge.
Congrats to the city of Armstrong that won this year’s competition!
Global TV Kelowna Collaboration
In collaboration with Global TV in the Okanagan valley, we had various methods of sharing our message. It included:
- A four week on-air Q&A with local reporter Travis Lowe
- Station-produced PSA videos
- Display ads on their website
- L-frame ads during the morning news
To engage with those interested in the Make Water Work initiative, we created swag items to give away. They included foam kneeboards for gardening, as well as buttons that the user could scribe what they were making water work for. We also had bookmarks and FAQ sheets as extra resources of information.
In 2021 the Okanagan valley suffered yet another drought. Water conservation efforts were in full effect. Thankfully, our campaign had great uptake in the region. Judging by the volume of awareness our campaign generated, we managed to enlighten residents on how to make water work for them and their community, helping conserve water for their future.