The Bahamas is blessed with stunning water and abundant flora & fauna. But there is a flip side to our “paradise.” Our delicate ecosystem, which is so fundamental to our health and livelihoods, is in serious danger. The culprit? Us. Time to wake up. To join a host of enlightened countries who are banning single-use plastics and Styrofoam. To think beyond today and start shaping The Bahamas of tomorrow. Because it’s not “Better in The Bahamas" as per the enduring tourism tagline. But it will be...
The primary aim of the “Towards A Plastic Free Bahamas” campaign was to ensure a positive public reaction to the impending nationwide single-use plastic & Styrofoam ban, put forth by The Bahamas’ Ministry of Environment & Housing. We had 10 months to meet the following objectives through strategic implementation of a 360 national awareness campaign:
- Educate the public about the dangers of plastic & Styrofoam consumption and the crucial importance of the upcoming ban.
- Inspire an organic change of mindset and behavior, favoring environmentally-friendly alternatives and setting the stage for a national recycling program.
- Reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste sent to the landfill and the incidence of littering.
- Redefine "waste" and "environmental issues" as opportunities for forward-thinking businesses and the next-generation of Bahamian entrepreneurs.
Let’s get real. It’s not because we tell people that we are on the verge of an environmental disaster that they will care, believe us, or want to believe us. For many local Bahamians, the impending single-use plastic & Styrofoam ban would come as a threat - a serious challenge to a current throwaway model of consumerism. How can we serve a dollar breakfast without Styrofoam? What are we expected to put our groceries in? How do we know this isn't "government propaganda" or fake news? In a hyperactive digital age, we are also competing with celebrity hairdos, likes on Instagram, and the latest WhatsApp "news." If attention span is 21st century currency, how do we get regular Bahamians to buy in?
With 10 months to go before the nationwide ban, we devised an integrated marketing and public relations strategy to engage our target audience across digital and traditional platforms. We focused a limited budget on a social campaign that combined shock-factor with humor, education and inspiration, driving the audience towards the informational hub of our PlasticFree242 microsite, complete with FAQs, news and educational resources.
We used a local and relatable social media influencer and comedian as a campaign ambassador to engage with people on the street, producing organic video content and infomercials that blended humor with a serious message and guaranteed shares.
As much as possible, we encouraged real conversation and engagement, with a Plastic Free Pledge and 24-Hour Plastic Free Challenge on social. We also organized radio appearances and school visits for The Bahamas Ministry of Environment & Housing (MOEH) team and a series of townhall meetings across the island archipelago designed at having hard conversations and inspiring communities towards progressive change.
In order to raise extra funds for billboard and TV space, we devised a tiered sponsorship plan, succeeding in bringing onboard many of The Bahamas' biggest blue-chip brands as campaign sponsors. We also created a Trailblazer Business Spotlight on the microsite, showcasing forward-thinking businesses that had successfully adapted to a "Better Bahamas" with alternatives to single-use plastic or Styrofoam.
In the final weeks leading up to the ban, we were able to secure funding for the largest digital billboard in the capital city of Nassau, showing a countdown to the ban on January 1st 2021. This final push for public awareness was backed by increased engagement on social media and radio appearances to answer public concerns and cross the finish line as a nation, proudly moving Towards A Plastic Free Bahamas.
In month one alone, the MOEH social channels gained over 2,900 followers with 4.6 million impressions across Facebook and Instagram.
Over the 10-month campaign, despite a very limited social spend, we gained over 4,600 followers, representing an increase of 280% on Facebook and 71% on Instagram from the period before. On Instagram, we saw total impressions rise by a staggering 502% - not bad for a Government campaign on a platform that is strictly visual. The majority of our audiences in The Bahamas live on Facebook, with the average Instagram growth being 12.6% in a 6-month period.
Facebook engagement spiked by 878% with a rate of 300,921 compared to an average 30K engagement in the period before. We received an increase of 227% in Facebook inbox messages reflecting the desire for knowledge about the plastic ban, recycling and sustainable alternatives. Our most popular campaign post reached 2.3 million people and got over 105,000 reactions. Infomercials were viewed over 270,000 times.
Our microsite resource center received over 17,000 unique visitors and over 25,000-page views, with over 40% coming from social, and 30% coming direct - testament to the efficacy of our billboards, radio interviews and town hall meetings across the islands.
The campaign generated a national conversation, the most telling result being the fact that the plastic ban went into effect without a hiccup, celebrated as a crucial environmental milestone. Bahamians swapped plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam containers for sustainable alternatives, with many seeing change as opportunity for forward-thinking businesses.