Art director Dominika Halas talks to LBB’s Laura Swinton about a clever hack that could save lives – with zero media budget
Carbon monoxide is a silent killer – but often those most at risk are those who don’t have the means to test for it. That’s why Grey Poland teamed up with the Polish Fire Department and three of the country’s biggest retailers to create a free hack to help people make sure that their homes are safe.
The project is based on the fact that clear vents with flowing airstreams stop carbon monoxide building up. It’s pretty simple to test that the vents are working – just hold up a sheet of paper to the vent and if it sticks the air is flowing freely. With that in mind, the team at Grey persuaded Lewiatan, Pepco and Złote Tarasy to include a notice on their coupon ads telling people to use the sheet of paper to test their vents.
The notice also included a link to the Polish Fire Department Website and a reminder to get vents checked by chimney sweeps once a year.
The origin of the idea was surprisingly close to home for art director Dominika Halas. She hails from a coal-rich region in the southwest corner of the country where air pollution and carbon monoxide are big issues. “The starting point was connected to my hometown. I was born in Silesia (Katowice), the Polish ‘land of carbon’, where the problem of carbon monoxide poisoning is very strong,” she explains. “Last year I was already fighting against smog and also this time I wanted to keep on going with thought of ‘how can I save the world’.”
The connection between discount coupon ads and carbon monoxide poisoning may not be immediately obvious, but the whole project is based on an incredibly poignant and incisive insight.
The problem of carbon monoxide poisoning occurs mainly in the homes of less wealthy Poles, who have old stoves and vent systems. Such people are often price-sensitive, and they pay attention to promotional leaflets,” says Dominika.
The Polish Fire Department proved to be excellent collaborators and mentors. As the fire service is often the first to respond to carbon monoxide attacks , they were able to share their experience and knowledge with the Grey team.
One of the big challenges was to design the notice so that it would stand out on the retailers’ ads but that would not be so dominant that the retailers would refuse to carry it for free. “While designing, the main question was: “should it be full page or just a part [of the page]?”. We had decided to go with the second option because otherwise, none of our retailers would print it - it would provoke costs. By being a noticeable part of layout, it did the same work but for free.”
The whole project incurred zero media cost thanks to the partnerships with the three retailers. However, despite the absence of media spend, the project seems to be doing its job as Dominka says there has been a noticeable uptick in activity around maintaining vents. “We got news from the National Polish Fire Department and National Chamber of Chimney Sweeps, that they have received more calls. People have started to pay attention to the state of their ventilation system and that was the whole point.”