Don't challenge nature

Stimulating environmental awareness in the Heuvelland region

Group Rotsjes:

Liesbeth Bruyneel (AHS)
Jessica Peichl (HdM)
Anja Schäfer (HdM)
Jacquelin Farr (UWS)

The project brief asked for a campaign to communicate the problems which arose when the expectations and experience of visitors to Heuvelland and the Westhoek interacted negatively with those of the local community in particular the farming community and those using the landscape. One of the key aims was to produce a campaign which got the message across but retained a light touch as the presence of tourists remains a vital element of the local economy.

Besides research from local tourism agencies the team was able to speak directly to local people including farmers and get some useful first-hand information from them.

Litter, speeding and noise pollution are significant issues for local people and farmers and some seemingly small misdemeanours can have significant unfortunate consequences – one example of this was the occasional occurrence of drinks cans being left or thrown into fields which can cause machinery to break down and seriously disrupt farming and harvesting.

The team decided to develop and integrated campaign which would at once use all the skills of the group and also confront the target audience in a number of ways close to the countryside. Infographics, filmmaking and design were all deployed to create a campaign which included a prototype litter bin with integrated infographics, reinforcing the necessity and value of safely disposing of cans and litter, posters for display in tourist information centres and other local sites and a series of video/television information films. Storyboards were prepared and some pilot films shot and edited. The overarching theme of the campaign was "Don’t Challenge Nature". One of the films saw a couple of visitors thoughtlessly throwing away a drinks can – the kind of action noted above – only to have it mysteriously thrown back at them by the tree it hit. Another storyboarded sequence saw a group of cows take revenge on noisy thoughtless speeding motorists.

Overall the proposed campaign captured the imagination and hit the right note using a range of media and some humour to raise awareness without being too censorious of the visitors on which the region depends. The Rotjes team greatly enjoyed the challenge and got a lot out of working on the brief and presenting their work.