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Communicator of the Week: The Chewing Gum Action Group

There is a lovely story of Winston Churchill who, out walking one day in Whitehall with his bodyguard, came across a young boy whistling loudly. Churchill, a hater of whistling, barked with his trademark gruffness for the boy to be quiet. The boy, shuffling along the street with his hands in his pockets, turns to the prime minister and exclaims "why should I". Churchill, taken back, responds “because its a horrible noise”. Unimpressed with a direct command from one of the greatest Brits ever the young boy merely shrugs and calls back, “well you can shut your ears, can’t you?”

Whistling, like chewing gum, certainly has its place but probably not in polite society. The problem with chewing gum, unlike whistling, is that it increasingly is leaving a horrible stain on the streets of our town centres as unthinking people spit out their used gum. We’ve all walked in gum and experienced how annoying it is but other than this probably don’t appreciate just how big a problem it is.

This is where this week’s award winners come in. The Chewing Gum Action Group describe themselves as a “behaviour change campaign designed especially for local authorities". Luckily their media relations are better than their copywriter which is how I came across this brilliant stunt with their activists highlighting every single piece of used gum stuck to the pavement of London’s Oxford Street.

The image, easily produced, tells a powerful story and was supported by using a good spokesperson and statistics, such as the cost of removing gum from our streets, to create the media package. Let’s hope they are more successful in their campaign than Churchill was with that young boy. For now though I make The Chewing Gum Action Group my communicator of the week.

Comunicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.

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