Time for Timber

Down in the tube station at one minute to midnight

Bank station takeover launches major net zero awareness campaign

It is now clear to all that climate change is one of the most serious issues of our times. With the drive to reach net zero by 2050, the construction industry has a vital role to play in reaching these targets, not least as it is estimated to account for up to 10% of global CO2 emissions. The industry must take responsibility and act fast. Timber is recognised as the most sustainable of the three main structural building materials ahead of steel and concrete. As well as being sustainable and replenishable, it also has the added benefit of being a carbon sink, locking in CO2 as it grows – it is the ultimate net zero construction material. Timber also supports the notion of a circular economy, vital for the rebuilding of the nation following the pandemic, with the potential to create thousands of jobs.

Recognising the need to broaden its message and its audience, the Structural Timber Association (STA) approached us to create a focused campaign to promote the benefits of timber as a structural element and why it should be considered key to reaching net zero by 2050. Having previously worked with the STA, we were seen as an agency with the necessary expertise to communicate with the whole supply chain, from architects, to developers, local authorities, contractors and beyond.

As well as communicating to its traditional audience, the STA recognised that many of the issues around the use of structural timber start at the stage when insurers and financiers are involved. Research suggested that there is a lack of knowledge in how timber performs. Therefore, one of the main aims for the campaign was to directly target the financial and insurance industries, to counter the misconceptions around timber and deliver a compelling narrative about its place in providing the sustainable buildings of the future.

The initial brief for the campaign was straightforward. Make it stand out from the rest of the campaigns in the construction industry and stand out from what has gone before.

Our response was the Time For Timber campaign, a multi-channel campaign that communicated primarily with the main target audience within the insurance sector. As this was outside the normal sector that we inhabit, the agency worked hard in getting up to speed with the issues that insurers face when looking to underwrite a project from the construction site, through to completion and beyond. Working closely with opinion formers from the sector, as well as others in the supply chain, we were able to devise the messaging and delivery for the campaign.

In the planning stages, we suggested that the STA remain in the shadows as the organisation commissioning the campaign, to give the messaging more strength and focus - a bold move, which added to the credibility of the campaign by not being overtly commercial.

After creating an iconic image of a sapling growing through concrete, it was promoted in a high-profile launch by dominating the advertising opportunities at Bank Underground station, in the heart of the city, the centre of the financial and insurance industries. Digital poster sites and static images on platforms, entrance ways and escalators heralded an important message to take note that Now is the Time For Timber. This takeover was then broadcast on the day of launch via the campaign’s social media channels, most prominently LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtags #TimeForTimber and #NetZeroHero

The day of the launch also saw the Time For Timber website go live. Its central theme, as well as supplying fact-based articles on the NetZero credentials of structural timber, was the Time For Timber documentary, a series of powerful images showing the consequences of climate change, followed by a set of interviews from experts in the field of architecture, construction, engineering, insurance, sustainable investments as well as the thoughts of the economist, activist and former Green MEP, Molly Scott-Cato.

This launch was followed by engagement with the media through advertising and feature placements, as well as more high-profile activities featuring thought leaders from across the insurance and construction sectors, via webinars, podcasts, opinion pieces and whitepapers.

The dynamism of the campaign had to be reflected, as the area of sustainability and net zero became more high profile throughout the pandemic lockdown, through the publication of original articles on the site and shared content via social media. This responsive, flexible strategy has created a wider recognition of timber’s sustainable, net zero credentials, as demonstrated by the organisers of the COP26 conference extending an invite to the timber industry to attend.

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