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Keep America Beautiful Uses Humor To Fight Litter In New Campaign

New program aims serious message at GenXers using humor, social media.

KeepAmerican Beautiful (KAB) has launched a new awareness campaign aimed at teaching younger Americans that “Littering Is Wrong, Too.”

The campaign is designed to create a dialogue with younger adults about the problem of litter.  Using the power of social media, as well as individual interaction and other traditional advertising methods like bill boards and TV ads, KAB expects to make an impact on the lives of the next generation.  “This campaign is not only attention-getting, it demands interaction and involvement,” said Matt McKenna, president and chief executive officer of Keep America Beautiful.

The new campaign is KAB’s first since the 70s, and is aimed squarely at those between the ages of 18-34. Research has shown that individuals within this age group are the most likely to litter.  But surprisingly, research also shows that this group is the most likely to be influenced by an educational campaign. The campaign links littering with other undeniable — and often humorous — wrongdoings, such as eating “gas station sushi,” “texting during surgery” or giving kids “sugar at bedtime.”

At LitteringIsWrongToo.org, individuals are encouraged to “write their wrong” directly, pledge their support and add their own voice and creativity to the campaign. Visitors can share their own “wrongs,” including uploading photos and videos which KAB hopes will help generate social media buzz for the campaign. People can also take part via the campaign’s Facebook page (facebook.com/LitteringIsWrongToo) and on Twitter (twitter.com/litteriswrong) with the hashtag #litter or #litteriswrong.

The program was originally piloted in Cincinnati last year in a partnership with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.  A post-campaign survey by Opinion Research Corporation showed significant breakthrough, awareness and self-reported behavior change among the target audience.

Litter on American roadways has decreased by 61% since Iron Eyes Cody made his tearful public service announcement plea for Americans to stop littering in 1969.  Still, more than 51 billion pieces of litter land on U.S. roadways each year.  “Unfortunately, litter still exists and its impact on a community is more costly than ever,” said McKenna,.

Unveiled more than 40 years ago on Earth Day, “The Crying Indian” PSA is still regularly recognized as one of the most iconic and memorable campaigns of all time. But the organization felt a fresher approach was needed to reach younger Americans who regularly use social media.

“Littering isn’t top-of-mind for most people. We need to first get people talking and, in the process, begin establishing the social norm that littering is a socially unacceptable behavior.”

About Sebrina Zerkus Smith

Professional writer, foodie. Lupus survivor. Loves pugs, wine, days at the beach and good movies. Takes recycling seriously, but not much else. Sebrina Zerkus Smith is a Southern Gal that has been scratching the writer’s itch for nearly 30 years. Her career began in Washington, D.C., in 1987, fresh out of collage and full of ideals. While plying her trade by day on congressional reps and senators, at night she burned the candle writing features for local newspapers and national magazines. She quickly realized that her southern upbringing gave her a unique and humorous voice that resonated with her readers. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles where she pursued her dream of becoming a novelist and screenwriter. She paid her bills by working as a freelance writer for major marketing projects from studios such as CBS, NBC and Disney. Realizing that the future of writing lay with the internet, she was bitten by the blogging bug back in the 90’s, back before it was even called “blogging.” Then it was still just writing and trying to make a living. Through those early blogging years, Sebrina found passion and purpose. Over the past 10 years she has written articles for clients such as LightCues.com, MatterMore.com, Greenopolis, MacAddict, Yahoo, CNN and more. Today, Sebrina writes about a variety of topics including the Southern Experience, sustainability, clean water, food, gardening, sleep and her obsession with pugs. She is a regular paid contributor to WildOats.com as well as other entities. She now lives in Houston with her husband Jeff and their pug Newton. She hopes one day to complete her opus, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.

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