Canal & River Trust
The Canal & River Trust is the charity entrusted with the care of more than 2,000 miles of inland waterways, some of which date back more than 200 years, along with a network of bridges, towpaths, aqueducts, docks and reservoirs.
Alongside caring for the canals and rivers all year round, the charity is constantly seeking ways to improve them for local communities. Improving wildlife habitats is a vital part of the charity’s work and each year it launches a Great Nature Watch campaign to encourage people to ‘stop, look and listen’, and register what they have seen along the waterways.
In 2015, the campaign generated almost 4,000 sightings of 163 different species, including birds under threat and water voles, providing invaluable information to the charity’s experts. This year, markettiers was tasked with revamping the Great Nature Watch campaign and to develop a new approach to re-engage the public with the wildlife around them.
It wanted to create a national conversation while promoting the work of the Canal & River Trust and encouraging families to reacquaint themselves with nature. Before the campaign’s launch, and mindful of the needs of media including broadcast, markettiers created a survey, the Wildlife Ear & Eye Q, to see how many people could correctly identify wildlife found along the waterways.
Drawing on a unique partnership that it set up between the charity and The Wildlife Sound Recording Society, the survey also included a series of eight nature sounds. The survey revealed that 25 per cent of parents and 30 per cent of children could not identify the sound a duck makes, and many were unaware that a blackbird mimics the sounds of its surroundings.
The findings provided a news hook for the launch of the Great Nature Watch campaign. The sounds used in the research were packaged as audio roll for broadcasters while a range of on location, canal-side filming opportunities were offered, localised data comparing the results of both the adult and child surveys, and a range of spokespeople, including Mark Robinson, national ecologist at the charity.
The campaign’s launch was captured in 58 broadcast interviews, including BBC Breakfast, BBC News, BBC Radio 5Live, and was subsequently syndicated across 173 stations. Seven in ten interviews featured the sound quiz audio roll while Fun Kids Radio also recreated the quiz on air for children to take, a potential audience of 55 million people.
markettiers had set itself a target of beating the 2015 launch coverage by ten per cent, but actually exceeded that target by 1,200 per cent. More than 1,100 people completed an online version of the survey, while the charity was inspired to create an app that encouraged visitors to the waterways to record video or audio of the wildlife they discovered.
‘This was hugely creative and interactive, clearly met its objectives and achieved a great return on investment,’ said the judges. ‘I loved it,’ said one.