Putting a value on water

POSTED BY Christina Arbini on May 8, 2015

Hornall Anderson creates playful ‘wash your dog’ campaign for Severn Trent Water

Recently, Hornall Anderson brought a touch of playfulness to Seven Trent Water’s major new campaign, starring ‘Scruffy the Dog’. By illustrating the true cost of washing a dog via experiences with ‘Scruffy’, the fun campaign aims to show its customers in central England that it offers the best value in Britain.

The company

Severn Trent Water’s 4.3 million bill paying customers enjoy the best value in Britain, with the lowest average combined water and waste water bills in the UK. Hornall Anderson began working with Severn Trent Water in November 2014 to create a campaign which would help customers understand the value they get from their water company.


The challenge

“How do you put a value on something that falls out of the sky?” asks Lucy Fox, client services director at Hornall Anderson. ”Water is perceived as inherently free, and Severn Trent Water like all water companies faces a challenge in explaining the value it adds to the process.”

She continues: “We needed to operate within the existing corporate brand, and so could not rely on design to convey our message – it would have to be an emotional hook. And it would need to be a strong one which would create a feeling of positivity towards a utility.”


The solution

The central creative concept is to put an actual price on the water that is used in experiences which we love. So, ‘Scruffy the Dog’, the loveable central character of the launch video, goes for a fun-packed walk and ends up muddy. How do you compare that experience to the 3p it costs to make him clean again?

“This is a radical new way of talking about water,” says Fox. “Nowhere in this campaign is there a generic family drinking glasses of water.”

This idea has launched across videos on Severn Trent Water’s website, where visitors can select the specific muddy adventure Scruffy enjoys - hedge, bin or puddle – and a “Puppy” button shows us Scruffy as a cute young puppy. The message also appears across direct mail and digital banners.

Clare Froggatt, customer campaign manager at Severn Trent Water, commented: “A genuine understanding of our business, our people and our customers has enabled Hornall Anderson to push our business into being more bold and challenging in our creative, while finding ways to embrace our friendly and approachable side at the same time.”

WRITTEN BY Christina Arbini

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