There’s no denying that sex sells, but whether it can promote water conservation is being put to the test by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
In a new ad campaign that features a Barry White-style voice-over, the TV commercials are racy, provocative and funny, despite the rather unsexy concept of water use in toilets and sinks.
The ad shows someone washing their hands as a sultry voice says, “Conservation can feel oh so right.”
In another part of the ad, the voice continues, “Efficient fixtures for your kitchens and bathrooms, screw them on, yeah,” as a hand caresses the sink handle.
Although the commercials may prompt a chuckle, the drought that California faces is no laughing matter.
“At the SFPUC, we get excited about water conservation, but at the same time we understand that a lot of people don’t,” said communications manager Charles Sheehan.
Sheehan said his team developed the concept after a successful ad campaign about the San Francisco sewage system, with lines like “your number two is our number one.”
“To create these ads, we ask ourselves how we can get this message across to the general public and to businesses without people rolling their eyes and everyone falling asleep,” said Sheehan.
SFPUC said the city came close to mandatory water rationing, and these new commercials are another means to capture the attention of San Franciscans. The ads were all done in-house, at no extra cost to the government.
“I thought the ads were hilarious,” San Francisco resident Afeef Ahmed told ABC News. “I think they will be effective, for the main reason that people in San Francisco like to be environmentally conscious but probably don’t realize what a severe drought we’re going through. These ads are memorable.”
Along with the TV commercials, the SFPUC launched a print campaign on public buses. One of the bus ads says “shaking the handle won’t fix the leak even if you jiggle it.”
“The name of the game in any advertising campaign is attention,” said resident Owen Boochever. “So I think [the SFPUC] has been pretty successful, especially on that front.”