Going Beyond the First Idea: Endangered Toilets - Bottled Imagination Skip to main content

Yep. we’re back for another edition of Going Beyond the First Idea. Our content series where we don’t just focus on the links and coverage achieved, but the idea and strategy behind them.  

This week we’re focusing on one of our favourite case studies – Endangered Toilets for our fabulous client Victorian Plumbing. 

The brief we were given:

 “Create an evergreen campaign that will build links from national and regional press

We’re going to focus on the two main parts of this campaign. 

  1. The insight behind the idea
  2. The creative to showcase the campaign

At Bottled Imagination, we value that if you have an amazing piece of insight or idea, then the creative needs to match. But when it comes to deciding what creative route or format you want to go down, you need to match it to the idea. Not shoehorn the idea into the easiest creative option available. 

So without further ado, let’s dive in. 

Coming up with the idea

If we wanted to pick up coverage and links in national and regional press we needed an idea which would land in these sorts of publications. 

We looked at the following:

  • which subject areas relating to our client that have high-press evidence year-round
  • what sort of topic areas does the national press cover
  • which topic areas have an emotional tangent and high engagement. 

It turns out – the press loves public toilets. 

So we know the press talks about public toilets, but do the general public care? Can we connect on a more regionalised level? This is where we head to social media for ideation. If you want to know what people are passionate about in your niche, head to Reddit and Twitter. From the complainers to the comedians you can find the best ideas and idea validation hidden amongst the conversations online. 

So not only do we know the press bloody love public toilets.., but we found some more interesting information about them:

  • People are passionate about their local community (There are countless Reddit, Facebook & Twitter conversations on the subject)
  • Public toilets are on the decline in the UK
  • Provision varies by region
  • It’s a public health issue

This gave us our campaign idea that we knew would get people talking and land in the media:

If public toilets are in decline let’s show when they are going to go extinct. 

Extinct is the keyword here, one in which we shape the campaign around. We could have used simpler words, disappear, vanish etc. But extinct has an emotional pull. It is a word that you would often hear on a BBC Earth documentary – probably spoken by the iconic David Attenborough when describing wildlife or habitats. But this campaign is an example of how a word can change everything. From a singular word with an emotional pull to shaping the entire creative activity of the campaign. 

The execution

If we wanted to land coverage both in national and regional publications we needed angles that would both be a national story and localised to each region. 

This means we needed a very strong data set as well as creatives to give the story justice. Here’s an insight into exactly how we did it. 

We submitted multiple FOI requests in order to gain data on the decline of public toilets by region and city over the past decade. The strategy was to use the current percentage rate of decline to calculate an estimated extinction rate of the public toilet in those cities. The findings were scary – national public toilets will be extinct by 2104 – with some due to be extinct far sooner. 

We had our national headline, and we had our regional headlines to outreach to local publications. So we created a blog and simple creatives:

We could have stopped here and launched the campaign – but that wouldn’t have done it justice and it really wouldn’t have been a Bottled Imagination campaign. 

The innovation

Let’s talk innovation. We set up Bottled Imagination to do different work, in fact, it’s the whole idea behind this content series. We believe that campaigns that are innovative and different are the ones that get the real cut-through. We have an internal innovation scale on campaigns – we knew we could take this further. The scale is nothing groundbreaking, there’s no propriety AI tech pretending to tell us just how innovative an idea is. But we use it as a reminder to ourselves when running campaigns that we always push for innovation. We want to execute creative work that lands higher up the scale, doing what most agencies won’t have thought of. Most ideas you will have in a brainstorm will naturally begin on the left-hand side of the scale, but as you work through them you can gradually push your creative execution up the scale. 

So, how do we innovate from here? A common challenge with digital PR is turning data into something creative. Moving beyond the classic infographic into a fully-fledged creative campaign. 

It all comes down to the initial idea. Public toilets are becoming extinct. So how do we play on this word?

Well technically, if toilets are going extinct, they are an endangered species. So is there spoof potential here?

Enter WEE. Get it?

Our data had localised angles within it, we just needed to tell the story for each one. And by playing on the toilets as an endangered species creative we could create localised assets for each city.

Again, we could have stopped there. But we were running with a theme and we wanted to push it as far as we could. 

If toilets are going extinct, and they are currently endangered, could we save them?

Enter the government petition.

We are not only highlighting an issue now, we are trying to do something about it. We used local communities on Reddit and Twitter to drive the conversation. 

But we felt like we could go one step further on the theme. How far could we really push this?

A BBC Earth-style video, of course, featuring a David Attenborough voiceover. Which you can watch over on the Victorian Plumbing site.

A full imagination campaign

Landing on your campaign idea is only half of the job. The other half is telling that story in a creative, engaging way. The multitude of channels and how people are consuming content is always changing, but at the heart of great content marketing is telling a good story. You just need to fit the creative to that story. 

So next time you are running a digital PR campaign, or running an ideation, use the innovation scale to push your creative execution. 

Or just get in touch with us.