Issue Communications

Helping New Yorkers Unwaste

With the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority


01 / Background

Helping New Yorkers reduce their home and business energy use is a key objective of the New York Public Service Commission (PSC). While there were over $1 billion available in incentives in the state, they are offered by a confusing mishmash of state agencies, utilities and other entities. The PSC asked GMMB to develop a campaign that brings these various programs, incentives and do-it-yourself actions under one umbrella to make it easier for New Yorkers to actively engage in energy conservation and make use of available assistance.

2009 - 2013
Advertising / Brand Strategy / Creative Content / Movement Building / Public Relations / Digital

02 / Strategy

Extensive research was done to develop the strategy and positioning of the effort. The key insight we developed was that rather than focusing on saving money or protecting the environment, a more inclusive call to action would tap into New Yorkers’ drive to reduce waste in their lives as they emerged from the economic downfall. We connected energy use to this phenomenon and trademarked unwasteNY™ as the digital hub of a fully integrated program.


03 / Work

To bring the campaign to life, GMMB provided a fully integrated set of services. We began by conducting extensive qualitative, quantitative, and ethnographic research to develop a brand strategy, logo, and complete identity package. To help consumers visualize energy use and waste, we developed the unwasteNY Online Community and Social Network. It provided individualized energy use reporting (from data drawn from their utility companies) and peer-to-peer engagement to stimulate behavior change. It empowered New Yorkers to design a custom plan to unwaste their homes and businesses, and encouraged them with helpful nudges along the way.

Deployment of the campaign included wiring 250 homes with web-connected energy monitors that allowed them to monitor their electricity use in real-time. They collected energy data, tested different energy efficiency strategies, and then shared their stories with other New Yorkers about the simple ways to unwaste that were working for them.

Additionally, we created a full suite of TV, radio, online, and out-of-home advertising to encourage program uptake. To engage the media, we developed a communications plan and collateral media materials, including messages, press releases, fact sheets, bios, and backgrounders on the campaign. GMMB also led community-based outreach efforts, securing more than 800 organizations to be unwasteNY ambassadors with the aim of engaging their constituents in the campaign. As part of this outreach, GMMB created everything from letterhead, brochures, and business cards to illustrations, infographics, and designs for exhibits.


04 / Results

The goal of the unwasteNY campaign was not only to raise New Yorkers’ awareness of their energy use, but to measurably reduce it, and that worked: participants in the yearlong pilot program reduced their household electricity use by an average 6.2 percent. The campaign also recruited and supported more than 1,000 community-based organizations that have continued the conservation efforts sparked by unwasteNY.