Fertilizer runoff continues to be the primary pollutant in Tampa Bay, leading to algae blooms, fish kills and dead zones. Decades of work to improve water quality is threatened by ongoing population growth; more people means more houses, which means more lawns – and more fertilizer washing into the Bay. Meanwhile, several local communities have passed laws banning the sale of fertilizer during the summer rainy season and some retailers are upset.
Show grim pictures of dead fish and plead with people to sacrifice their lawn (and their standing in their neighborhood) for a greater social good. In areas with sales bans, remind residents and businesses that it’s the law.
Tampa Bay is the focal point of the region’s premier industry – tourism – as well as a major source of local pride and recreation. Our campaign leveraged residents’ pride of place and strong sense that the rules are different in Florida (and newcomers can be a little clueless). Our signature mascot? A plastic pink flamingo yard ornament. Combining outdoor, online and print advertising with an interactive website, Facebook page and on-the-ground community action, the Be Floridian campaign asks residents to help “protect fun” by holding off on the fertilizer till fall and landscaping with Florida friendly plants that require less time, money (and fertilizer) to maintain. For retailers, we created point-of-purchase materials promoting “summer-safe” products, provided floor displays with takeaways for customers, and gave sales associates pocket-sized cheat sheets to help them answer questions about the sales ban.
Launched in May 2011, the campaign website garnered thousands of visits and generated widespread media attention. Local garden shops as well as the regional division of the Lowe’s home improvement chain adopted our materials and helped spread the word. A flash mob armed with pink plastic flamingos appeared at a local farmers market, and dozens of the wire-legged critters “flocked” the lawns at local city councils during critical votes, helping not only fend off efforts to overturn the sales bans but expanding them to an additional city.