Whitewashing the real dirt with the same old smut

A current campaign from Keep Britain Tidy (KBT), called "Get behind keep Britain tidy" follows similar lines to a previous campaign from  some years ago. The current campaign uses "saucy seaside postcard humour" to highlight the increasing costs of cleaning up litter.

During that campaign we received some complaints from the public about the messages being inappropriate, particularly for an audience of young people.  A number of young people we interviewed thought the campaign was close to the bone and unnecessary but agreed it would raise a few laughs. However, they doubted that the campaign would stop people littering as it just belittled the problem rather than highlighted the serious issues of hygiene and health.

The KBT organisation is half-funded by the Government and most of their 'earnings' come from the services they provide to government. So, it raises some questions when they talk about the £850 million cost to the public to clean up litter.
What has this marketing campaign cost the public? It would appear that they have paid for half of it!  The online comments from the public on blogs are largely negative.  Is the tone of this campaign likely to change behaviour? This is public information, not a clever product promotion.  It may grab headlines, but will anyone appreciate the serious aspects and take action?

The work of Keep Britain Tidy in many projects has undoubtedly been constructive and commendable.  But, perhaps the resources they have used for this recent poster campaign could have been better spent. Maybe it would have been better for them to focus on more of these constructive projects, rather than  smutty messages to give the public a giggle.

PEC have successfully used humour over the past 30 years to raise awareness in the fight against jargon and gobbledygook.  Double entendre (not double ententre as the KBT website states) is a French term for words that have 'double meaning', and can be a very effective use of our rich language in the right place.  But the fact that public information should have the clearest possible meaning with no chance for confusion means that this tactic is not right for the message it carries. Clarity wins every time.

Picking up litter has nothing to do with sexual innuendos, neither do these saucy messages have any direct connection with the serious points of KBT’s work.  They are talking to a diverse audience and plain English would make the message clear first time, every time.

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