‘Losing Nature’s Language’ was an outstanding campaign which was based on a clear and easily understood insight. The strategy of shining a light on the changing use of language in an emotive way was cleverly delivered in a video featuring children talking about nature, that even the hard-hearted judges were charmed by. Supporting the campaign with insight-driven research ensured key messages were delivered across earned, shared and owned platforms. Post campaign research indicated 79% of respondents wanted to participate in the “50 Things” activity – meaning the campaign had a clear and demonstrable impact for the National Trust.

Mark of Excellence:

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Winner entry:

Brief, objectives and budget

‘50 Things to do before you’re 11 3⁄4’ (50T) is a list of free things for kids to do outside. It’s been running seven years. In 2019, we needed another fresh way to make it newsworthy, relevant and get families to take part.

We were also asked to seed the wider importance of connecting with nature, in advance of the charity’s 125th anniversary campaign: Everyone needs nature.

Our objectives, benchmarked vs previous campaigns/ Trust standards, were:

Increase awareness:

  • Reach 50% of parents and grandparents with key messages about 50T and nature connection
  • Reach 50,000 via social
  • Increase understanding of the Trust’s nature conservation by 20%

Create affinity:

  • Deliver NT’s four wider strategic messages in 65%+ of coverage
  • Spokesperson quote in 80%+ of coverage
  • Increase positive sentiment towards the Trust and the 50T programme

Drive action:

  • Increase desire to participate – 50% increase in website traffic

The idea, research and planning

What do you think of when you hear: tweet, web, stream, cloud? Birds, spiders, rivers and skies? Or messaging, data and live video? Our insight: we’re losing nature’s language, without even realising it.

This didn’t come from big data, little data or even a focus group (sorry). It came from Ruby Wax’s book: How To Be Human. A line says “language is culture”, reflecting what’s important to society.

We had a horrible suspicion: nature words are being lost from language, nature is being lost from culture. It’s affecting our target audience: kids under 12 and matters to their parents and grandparents. It’s a two-fold worry: people need nature for wellbeing; nature’s wellbeing relies on people.

We questioned our own kids and then 30 more kids, through friends, family and teachers. Kids were replacing nature language with tech terms. A chat with linguist Dr Robbie Love confirmed we were onto something.

Our idea: What’s happened to Mother (Nature’s) Tongue? We’re losing nature’s language!

Strategy, creativity and innovation

Our strategy to bring the above to life was:

  1. Shine a light on nature being lost from language and culture
  2. Share an emotive story
  3. Show ‘50T’ is the easy, free antidote

Creatively, we wanted to bring the strategy to life with an authentic, unscripted film. So we needed to do something different and innovative – a way to get kids for the film who didn’t know what the film was about, so we could capture genuine responses.

We put out a casting brief. Parents recorded what they thought was an audition tape on a smartphone, with kids answering “What’s a tweet? cloud? (etc)”. We then took the kids to experience tweet, cloud, stream and web in the natural-world. The edit was key – cutting candid, unscripted footage into a highly emotive film.

Two pieces of research supported the film’s premise:

An academic ‘corpora’ study:

Dr Love used records of British conversations since the 90s to reveal:

  • Today 1% use of ‘tweet’ relates to birds, 7% of ‘web’ to spiders
  • Only 36% uses of ‘stream’ today = little river
  • Nature usage of ‘cloud’ down 23%

Research with families:

YouGov confirmed: kids lose nature meaning as young as six. Adults feared this – 50% believed their grandchildren/children would see ‘web’ as a technology word, 48% ‘tweet’, 30% ‘stream’ etc

Delivery/ implementation of tactics

The three elements of our campaign (film, ‘corpora’ study and omnibus research) were packaged for earned, shared and owned media, working closely with the Trust’s in-house specialists to create tailored assets for a variety of channels and platforms –  from editorial media to broadcast, Twitter to Instagram to charity website. These included news copy and interview opportunities, 6’ Instagram Stories cuts, 1’22 film for editorial media, long-form website copy.

We also used learnings from previous National Trust campaigns to optimise start and end frames and tweaked calls to action based on the platform the content would be seen on.

We released assets in quick succession on launch day, generating coverage and conversation over multiple days:

  • News copy, imagery and long film released to national and regional media
  • Interview opportunities fulfilled with Robbie Love and the Trust’s Andy Beer
  • Social assets released across the day across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
  • Trust website hub including story & film and more info on 50Things
  • Ongoing interview opportunities
  • Discussion amongst academics and experts fuelled on Twitter

Measurement, evaluation and impact

We met or exceeded our stated objectives, impacting awareness, affinity and desired action:

  • Understanding of the Trust’s nature conservation grew 28.3%
  • Positive sentiment towards the Trust grew 9.2%
  • 79% of people surveyed wanted to participate in 50Things
  • 90.4% called it a ‘great resource’ for connecting kids with nature

In more detail:

Increase awareness:

  • 50% target audience reached. 14 national titles, Guardian to BBC News to Radio 4 to the Mail (Reach 609mn). 100% positive coverage. 100% nature connection messages.
  • 60,000+ organic views across social media
  • Trust’s best-performing video on Twitter that month

Create affinity:

  • Four strategic key messages delivered across coverage
    • Key message 1 = 88%
    • Key message 2 = 100%
    • Key message 3 = 65%
    • Key message 4 = 94%
  • Spokesperson quote included in 92% coverage

Drive action:

  • 33%+ traffic to the 50T website came from earned media articles
  • 57.5% visitors viewing story/film explored further content about 50T
  • 54% increase in the average web dwell-time

*Note: No registration process for 50T (previously there was an app to download). Website traffic and reported desire to participate used as proxy.

“It’s so simple, it might look obvious, easy even. It’s really not easy to get blanket attention, year on year. Mischief consistently deliver magic. They surfaced a fresh insight to create a new story about an initiative they’ve worked on for seven years, going way beyond a ‘PR story’ to highlight a cultural concern. It didn’t just create noise, it drove people to find out more. Finally, it helped seed the importance of our 2020 focus: Everyone needs nature.” – Laura Appleby, National Trust.