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Talon The Drum Awards Out Of Home

RNLI: raising awareness and respecting the water


By Awards Analyst, writer

November 23, 2016 | 4 min read

OMD UK & Talon won an award for 'Traditional 6, 4 or Smaller Sheet Poster' ad at the Creative Out of Home Awards 2016, for their work with The RNLI Lifesaving charity. They explain the strategy they used to make this award winning ad.

Executive Summary

Each year around 190 people lose their lives on the UK and Irish coasts. Three-quarters of these fatalities are men. Around half of these fatalities ended up in the water by accident.

Responding to these statistics, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) set an ambitious target of halving the numbers of accidental coastal deaths by 2024. So we were asked to help raise awareness of the dangers of the water, as part of their Respect the Water campaign.



Our thinking was inspired by a critical insight: people don’t think of the dangers of water when they should. We needed to keep reminding them of the issue in order to ensure they are more careful.

We developed a communication framework that was all about “working back from the water”. We gave our young male audience timely prompts at points all along their journey to the coast, right up to the water’s edge, hammering home the potential dangers, and we looked to reach these risk takers on nights out with their mates, when male bravado can be at its peak.

Using planning tools like Touchpoints, Route and Talon’s in-house tool Aim, we found that four environments were key to maximise reach and frequency against our male 16-39 audience:

  1. Roadside in proximity to the coast and River Thames
  2. Pubs and Bars in proximity to the coast – especially as people are more at risk after having a drink
  3. Train routes going to the coast
  4. Universities’ unions close to the coast during Fresher’s Week

Within these four environments, we hand selected all 5,021 panels so they were best placed near the coast, maximised dwell time and ensured they would spark conversations.


The frequency we got from our outdoor plan allowed us to display the complexity of the danger - why the water is unpredictable - with 3 different copies showcasing cold water shock, rip currents and unexpected waves.

RNLI Awareness poster


Overall, campaign awareness in the UK increased from 11% prior to the campaign to 15%. Just over one in five men aged 16-39 (21%) were able to recall the campaign. More importantly, correct message take-out amongst young males aware of the campaign saw a significant increase from 54% to 72%. 81% of people who recognised two or more elements of the campaign said they understood the dangers were relevant to them.

Outdoor (OOH) played a pivotal role in this success story: 19% of young males said they recognised the OOH activity (vs 13% of all adults).

The last word should go to our RNLI client:

“OOH has become a key channel in our 'Respect The Water' marketing mix as it allows us to highlight coastal risks to those in danger at contextually relevant locations. We have continued to invest in the medium in 2016 which is further proof we trust that OOH will help the RNLI reach our core target of 16-39 year old, whilst also contributing to improved awareness in the wider population”

Talon The Drum Awards Out Of Home

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We provide our clients with world class service, technology, and collaboration to create exceptional OOH campaigns that deliver measurable results.

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the largest charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands...

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