Loop® launches a new video campaign

farmer in field

What is the best way to communicate about biosolids? This is a question we all ask ourselves, all the time. It is a question we will have to keep asking ourselves. The landscape around us changes and so does the world of communications. 

King County realized that most of the people who help them make Loop® everyday had no idea Loop existed. They have a beautiful brand and a high quality product that is popular among customers, but virtually unknown among everyone else. Like many others in the biosolids world, most of all of Loop leaves the County to nourish farms and forests across Washington State. They set a goal of increasing brand awareness among King County citizens – the people who flush their toilets every day and never think about what happens to it. Their customers are key to the success of their program, but their citizens are also key. King County thought its citizens should know about this endlessly renewable resource. Seattle and King County Public Health thought this was a worthy cause, and King County is excited to feature them in their newest Loop video.  

Subscribe to the Loop YouTube channel or the King County Wastewater Treatment Division Facebook or Twitter to see the videos as soon as they are released!

How did this particular video come about? This video is one of many, both old and new. King County has a ton of amazing Loop videos. They are branded and they are beautiful and they are inspiring. But were they working? They didn’t really know. King County knew which videos people liked better and which ones were used more often, but they didn’t know if they were reaching their target audience, or if their messages were being heard.

King County gathered data. This ranged from key stakeholder interviews, to market research and media tests, to web analytics and more. What they found what that within King County, awareness of Loop was (and is) really low. And no one had any idea what biosolids were either. This was not that surprising. The work of communications, especially science communications, never ends. Loop has taken so many positive steps forward and accomplished so much, but there is also so much more to be accomplished. King County found that their videos were indeed inspiring, but they lacked the basic facts that people were actually really interested in. Their target audience still asked questions like “What is Loop?” and “How is Loop made?” and “Does it smell?”

lessons from nature
King County hired an animator to bring the “lessons from nature” analogy to life as part of this video. 

The Loop team decided to round out their videos and to take their communications to a more basic level to meet their audience where they are, and to use spokespersons who their audiences trusted. Most of King County will never see Loop, touch Loop, or use Loop. A set of videos with broader, informational messages would give King County a more robust set of tools, to reach a variety of audiences for a variety of purposes.

The King County team sat around a conference room table brainstorming. What topics and messages are missing from the Loop video portfolio? What is the best approach for the audience are they are trying to reach? As the conversation developed, Casey Plank from the education team interrupted. She said “making Loop - it all goes back to 5th grade science. This is what kids get excited about, but it is what makes the most sense to adults too. Why don’t we frame this like a science lesson? It’s just like nature, only we do it a lot faster.”

Our film director and producer jumped on this idea. “How is it like nature?” he said. “Tell me what you would say when you are teaching?”

farmer in field
Dave Ruud, operations manager at Boulder Park, Inc. knows that Loop builds good soil.  

That conversation helped King County begin to frame the answers to three key questions: What is Loop, how is it made, and is it safe? The team decided that this video could be longer, because it is really for the person who hears what biosolids are and wants to know more. For audiences with shorter attention spans, there are a variety of other shorter videos on key topics of interest, including a yet to be released series “Loop, Poop, and FAQs.” King County is excited to release this newest set of videos, and will soon begin their first experiment with social media advertising.

Each year, King County serves a population of 1.7 million over 424 square miles. They treat an average of 179 million gallons per day and produce around 120,000 wet tons of Loop. King County has a total of 5 treatment plants, including 3 regional treatment plants that use anaerobic digestion to produce class B Loop biosolids. Farmers throughout the region have known and used Loop for decades. Loop is also applied to working forests to increase forest growth and enrich the soil. A small portion of Loop is mixed with sawdust and composted by a private composter to make GroCo compost.