MediaUPDATE: Beginning in 2009 funding for the Litter and it will Hurt campaign was suspended due to transfer of litter tax monies to fund other state priorities. The suspension of the campaign will continue through at least 2015. The campaign material on these websites is for historical purposes.
Reaching litterers is tricky. Litterers are typically a young, entrenched group of people who already know they are engaged in socially unacceptable or illegal behavior. Focus groups with people who admitted to littering confirmed that it is a selfish and sometimes rebellious act. Environmentally positive messages, pleas that tried to instill guilt and messages that bolster a sense of civic pride fell flat with this group. In fact, these messages turned off this group and risked hitting their rebellious "hot buttons", encouraging them to litter more.
Since 2002, Ecology's various research studies continue to show that litter is reduced when motorists believe they may be caught and pay significant fines if they litter. Research also shows that most people in Washington will report litterers if given the opportunity.
When the campaign was re-launched in Spring of 2007, the primary messages built on the "litter and it will hurt" enforcement themes established in 2002. The new materials focus on the fines for littering potentially dangerous materials (lit cigarettes, glass bottles, human waste, etc.). They also make an appeal for people to secure their loads and stop putting other people at risk. For the first time since 2002, the campaign also actively encourages the non-littering public to be a part of the solution by calling the litter hotline (866-LITTER-1) to report litterers.
The 2007 litter campaign commercials speak to both those who litter and those who don't. The television spots feature two of the most common littering behaviors: tossing cigarette butts and driving with unsecured loads. In the spots, the potential litterers do not realize that their actions are wrong at first, but after scolding looks from those around them, they do the right thing. The spots drive the message home that people are watching, and that litterers can get reported, caught and fined.
The commercials also encourage people who don't litter to call the litter hotline when they see someone litter. By showing a diverse group of individuals watching the potential litterer, the spots give a positive image of people who call the litter hotline.
Instead of producing radio spots in 2007, the campaign incorporated "live" read messages on radio stations around the state. In 2008, the secured load spot was used exclusively.
Click image to view Spring 2008 commercials (Windows Media Format)
For information on past television and radio spots:
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