Global Action Plan and Impact on Urban Health Use Spoof Ads to Warn About the Shocking Impact of Wood Burning Stoves

Global Action Plan and Impact on Urban Health Use Spoof Ads to Warn About the Shocking Impact of Wood Burning Stoves

Sep. 28, 2023

As the colder nights of winter approach, many Londoners will be turning to their wood burning stoves to keep warm – without realising that the air pollution they cause is more harmful per hour than an HGV vehicle. 

To discourage wood burner use, the Greater London Authority and Global Action Plan has teamed up with Impact on Urban Health to create a poster, press and digital campaign with agency Dog Cat & Mouse. The ads use humour to inform wood burning stove owners and those considering one of their shocking health and pollution impact, and encourage Londoners to cut down or cut them out. 

Dog Cat & Mouse has come up with a three-pronged approach. For those who already own a wood burner, spoof posts on NextDoor get the message across, while for anyone considering buying one, a parody lifestyle stove ad is designed to put them off. A third, hard-hitting execution comparing an HGV and woodburner, targets both audiences.

The three NextDoor posts tell typically unlikely stories of urban animals a fox, a bird and a squirrel who appear at the homes of neighbours to spread the message about the dangerous pollution caused by wood burning stoves. Readers are directed to find out more at the Clean Air Hub. 

For anyone who’s thinking of buying one, a glossy lifestyle poster subverts a cosy fireside scene. The stove has been covered in brightly coloured "Danger" tape, and in the phrase "Complete your home with a wood burner," the word "complete" has been graffitied over with the word "pollute."

Meanwhile, the third tier aimed at both owners and potential owners, shows a picture of an HGV next to a wood burner with the line: "They both pollute. But which one is worse?" The copy goes on to say "Per hour, a wood burner is six times more polluting than an HGV. Be enlightened, don’t light them."

Domestic combustion is the number one source of small particle air pollution in the UK and accounts for 27% of all emissions, according to a 2023 report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). This is more than either road transport or industrial processes. The research also showed that wood burning in homes had increased by 124% between 2011 and 2021, and recent figures from the Stove Industry Alliance revealed that this trend had continued, with a 40% uptick in sales of wood burning stoves reported between 2021 and 2022.  

Despite the significant impact on air pollution, research carried out by Kantar Public for Defra showed that many people who buy wood burners do so for the aesthetic purpose of creating a cosy atmosphere rather than out of necessity. But this development has a simple explanation. Another report by Kantar Public on behalf of Impact Urban Health revealed that there is currently very low awareness of the contribution of domestic wood burning to air pollution, and that people consistently underrate the impact it has on public health and the environment.

Rachel Pidgeon, Portfolio Manager at Impact on Urban Health, said:

"We needed to understand the best ways to communicate clearly the health effects of wood burning. Dog Cat & Mouse challenged us to test bold creative and media strategies in a supportive and collaborative way, and the result is some exciting work that research indicates will make a significant difference."

 

Jo Tanner, Executive Creative Director at Dog Cat & Mouse, said:

"Not only is it a statistical and data minefield, it is also a political one too given concerns about ULEZ and the cost of living. All the work also went through several rounds of research. In that context we are very pleased to have produced the clear and creatively strong work we have."

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