Bringing new life to old pipes

Yarra Valley Water

Sewer pipes do their vital work underground, out of sight and out of mind. In our campaign to get Hawthorn people talking about the renovation of the network of Victorian-era pipes beneath their feet, we combined heritage and humour to put sewers in the spotlight and underscore the good stewardship of the company behind the project.

As part of a new suburb-wide approach to sewer pipe maintenance, Yarra Valley Water (YVW) asked Fenton to develop and implement a strategy to engage the local community and highlight the benefits of its $15 million investment to keep things flowing in Hawthorn.

Our campaign, Bringing new life to old pipes, told the story of how the budding City of Hawthorn first developed its sewers and eventually connected to Melbourne’s sewerage system as a rite of passage. In this context, YVW’s proactive investment to upgrade ageing pipes took on a historical significance with clear present-day benefits.

We developed a range of materials to promote different aspects of the story: a Hawthorn heritage timeline, animated infographics to explain the discreet pipe-relining procedure that made digging through the street surface unnecessary, and a range of content to persuade community influencers to spread the word online and on public notice boards.

Instead of traditional outdoor advertising, we used mobile A-frame signs to tell passers-by about the invisible work going on below them and stencilled campaign messages around Hawthorn’s main streets to make locals curious enough to visit the campaign webpage. We combined Facebook advertising with weekly advertorials in key community publications and topped off campaign activity with a presentation to 70 year-two students at Glenferrie Primary School.

Thanks to YVW’s carefully planned, non-invasive pipe relining operations, Hawthorn sewers are newly renovated to provide many more years of reliable service. Our campaign to engage locals on this essential work was supported by a range of community organisations who shared content on and offline, and the campaign is being used as a template to guide future community engagement on water infrastructure renewals.