How Canal & River Trust made one TV advert into a multi-channel brand awareness campaign

Georgina Garland from Canal & RIver Trust talking about their Well-B campaign at Relay by Raw London in September 2019

Georgina Garland, Social Media Manager at Canal & River Trust, introduced their latest brand awareness campaign and TV advert, Well-B – Recharge by Water, at our latest Relay event, How charity campaigns are more integrated than ever.

Canal & River Trust is relatively new, having only become a charity in 2012 and launching the current iteration of the brand last year. With low brand awareness across the country, this innovative campaign aims to bring the brand to the masses and promote blue and green spaces as a way for everyone to live happier, healthier lives.

Inspiration behind the campaign

The key objective for the creative in this campaign was to show that, as modern life becomes increasingly complicated and stressful, waterways are a simpler, happier place for everyone to recharge. The strategy was to create a sticky, memorable and flexible marketing tool that creates an emotional connection to the brand. Research found that this is often best achieved through the use of characters (or fluent devices) in marketing and so, after 10 ideas, characters and designs, Well-B was born.

Well-B is deliberately designed to be modern and contemporary, so as to bring 200 year old canals into modern day life. It delivers the key campaign messages and, importantly, is accessible and relevant to a range of audience – from walkers, runners, cyclists, canoers, families, and anyone who could benefit from blue spaces.

Importantly, he’s also designed to be applied to multiple touch points. Primarily launched as an advert on prime time TV, the campaign is agile enough to continue for many years across various channels.

Launching the campaign

The film launched as an advert on prime time TV in September, and has since seen success on digital channels. Working with the lead agency, as well as their in-house team, they were able to turn the main film into multiple individual assets, such as images, gifs and stories for various uses. Social media, for example, has played a key role to promote the film and to drive awareness and traffic to the Canal & River Trust website. On the website, Well-B is promoted on banners and landing pages that guide users to an onward journey of pre-existing and repurposed useful content. As this is a mass market campaign to increase brand awareness, the campaign doesn’t ask for donations. Instead, it offers useful value exchanges to new audiences, such as the opportunity to find your local canal or events in your local area, or even the opportunity to volunteer.

The Importance of Internal Buy-in

With 1,500 members of staff, more than 3,000 volunteers and 50 people managing social media across various channels, getting internal buy-in for the campaign was essential to ensure successful implementation. Groups were kept small at first, with other teams gradually brought in as the Brand team finalised details the campaign, including the final version of the character, the film, launch dates and air times. A sharing plan explained when, where and how internal staff could get involved with the campaign, and the brand team set up a dedicated email address to answer any queries. Finally, everyone was given copies of FAQs that allowed them to sing from the same hymn sheet. This was particularly important for customer service teams who speak directly to the public and needed to understand the key messages and be primed to answer questions.

The Future of Well-B

The campaign is designed to have longevity, with plans to build on the initial digital launch with real world activations. The Brand team have started to print Well-B onto vehicles, and he’s being incorporated into their education arm and other campaigns such as the Plastics Challenge. There might one day even one day be Well-B toys – though it’s difficult to balance the ethical material sourcing and creation for this – and, even a Well-B suit!

How Canal & River Trust made one TV advert into a multi-channel brand awareness campaign from Raw London

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