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Making Recycled Water Easier To Swallow


Five of Brisbane’s leading advertising agencies made their creative pitches to persuade the public to vote yes for recycled drinking water as part of Riverfestival’s 2006 program this year. 

Riverfestival challenged the five agencies to use their creative genius to sell the public on drinking recycled water and the results were revealed at a public forum during the festival.

While the innovative ad challenge was a hypothetical brief from Riverfestival, the debate couldn’t be more topical with each agency briefed to develop a single billboard to debunk some of the myths surrounding recycled water.

The event proved to be entertaining as well as educational with each agency taking a very different approach to pitching their campaign. There was Publicis Mojo’s “pure” approach with a simple but effective message and visual; Junior’s irreverent and interactive pitch invited the audience to tuck into babaganoosh and crackers served up in a “sterilised” bed pan while the agency’s Steve Minon explained how “sex” would sell its campaign; De Pasquale’s approach reassured the audience they could depend on the quality of the filtration technology for clear drinking water; while McCann Erickson’s campaign drew parallels to drinking milk and Advertising Depot chose an anti-ad approach with the tagline Let’s Not Recycle Water.

It was the last that captured the audience’s imagination and won the vote – after a countback with close rival McCann Erickson’s dramatic imagery.

The team behind Advertising Depot’s winning entry was Jesse Richardson, writer and co-art director with Bree McDonald and creative director Murray Berghan.

A panel which included Professor Ian Lowe AO, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, provided commentary on the campaigns then each was put to a public vote by an audience made up of scientists attending the Riversymposium, advertising professionals and general public.

According to Riverfestival general manager, Jennifer Cook, the ad challenge has demonstrated how to bridge the gap between science and the community with clever and creative communication.

“In this case each of the agencies has risen spectacularly to the challenge of one of the hardest ‘sells’ of all – to convince us that recycled water is not as distasteful as it seems,” Ms Cook said.

Download PDF version of Ad Challenge finalists

2007 Riverfestival is on from Friday 31 August to Sunday 9 September
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