RNLI: Respect the water

Leo Burnett Change / Arc Worldwide

The team

Alice Hooper, Kit Altin, Beri Cheetham, Ben Newman, Milo Williams, Charlotte Buchholdt, Megan Kelly, Rory Neighbour, Steve Watkins.

Other contributors:

Firefish – Research (Qualitative and Quantitative), Hothouse – Production of ambient elements, OMD – Media planning and buying.

How did the campaign make a difference?

RNLI's traditional strategy was to present itself as the charity that saves lives at sea. But more people die by drowning than by any other accident except road traffic accidents. 'Respect the Water' is an umbrella idea that focuses on potential dangers of the water, without demonising it.

What details of the strategy make this a winning entry?

80% of the approximately 480 people who drown in the UK every year are men aged from 35 to 60. Most are killed while walking along the coast, swimming, or by falling into open water. The effects of alcohol are at the heart of many of these accidents, along with small margins: stepping a little too close to the edge or swimming a little too far out. Research showed the target audience was invariably unaware of the risks and vastly over-estimated their abilities should they get into trouble. The aim was to make them aware while not demonising the water. To get into their mindset, a behavioural economics workshop gave insights that shaped messaging. Men relate to and react to facts, so drowning experts ensured all messaging was scientifically correct and as powerful as possible.

How did creativity bring the strategy to life?