UK-based independent environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy, has today announced the appointment of integrated communications agency VCCP London to lead a new campaign to stop people dropping cigarette butts, which accounts for 66% of all litter in England. The project was won during a three-way competitive pitch.
It is estimated that at any one moment in England there are 2.4million dropped cigarette butts on our high streets which each take 14 years to break apart into microplastics. During this time they leach toxic chemicals including arsenic, lead, formaldehyde and nicotine into the environment which affects the development of organisms, even at the very foundation of the ecosystem.
The pitch saw a collaboration with Cowry Consulting, one of the world’s leading Behavioural Science consultancies, who were acquired by VCCP Group in January this year and represents the first joint win since the acquisition. VCCP also brings vast experience in creating behavioural change campaigns, having worked with Transport for London since 2016.
Cowry Consulting and VCCP Stoke worked collaboratively during the pitch process to ensure the creative ideas adhered to key behavioural principles. As well as using behavioural models to inform ways to engage the audience, VCCP Stoke conducted in-person qualitative groups with smokers which influenced the pitch presentation.
Further research between Cowry Consulting and VCCP with smokers uncovered the fact that whilst most smokers would not dream of dropping litter such as drinks cans or crisp packets, they do not view dropping cigarette butts as nearly as bad, and often do not even consider it as littering.
VCCP and Cowry Consulting will now work towards shifting this perception and driving behaviour change, with the campaign set to launch across the UK this November.
Alison Ogden-Newton of Keep Britain Tidy said: “Cigarette butts remain the single most littered item in our country. At Keep Britain Tidy, we are on a mission to dramatically reduce cigarette litter by 2025, which is no small undertaking. We were impressed by VCCP and Cowry’s audience research at pitch stage, drawing insights that have been translated into engaging and persuasive creative. We are greatly excited about the work and look forward to launching the campaign later this year.”
Andrew Peake, VCCP CEO added: “Littering is both ugly and costly, so I was quite shocked to learn that some smokers don't regard dropping cigarette butts in the same category as other litter. I’m pleased that with our colleagues in Cowry Consulting,we can do our bit to help stub out this littering behaviour and to correct some people’s views about the impact of their habits.”