Giving a Twit: Sanitation Non-Profit Hits Up Twitter for Toilet Talk

  |  July 16, 2009   |  Comments

Campaign to put composting toilets in developing regions doesn't shy away from scatological humor.

When Todd Lieman and Jon Wank founded the Skadaddle Media ad and marketing agency in January 2008, they vowed to be fearless, "not afraid to pitch any idea to any client at any time," as Lieman put it.

As the creators of a new social media campaign called "Twitter for Sh-tters," Wank and Lieman seem to be living up to their professed bravado.

Being shocking for shock's sake is one thing and it often works to sell stuff. With the Twitter campaign, Skadaddle isn't using the s-word as a mere gimmick. The goal of the effort is to make people aware of the problem of human waste disposal in less-developed parts of the world and to urge donations to Skadaddle's non-profit client, Wherever the Need, which wants to buy and install composting toilets in those areas.

Skadaddle, which developed the successful "aha moment" campaign for Mutual of Omaha, convinced Wherever the Need's representatives that being politically correct or, for that matter, tasteful, wasn't the way to go when it came to getting people to pay attention to this particular issue. "People don't want to talk about sanitation," Lieman said. "We thought that, if we were going to do this, we'd have to be fearless about the message we are trying to deliver and not focus on euphemisms. We need to say, `Look, sanitation is a huge problem. There's sh-t everywhere and we need to tackle this."

Within three hours of being launched Wednesday, Twitter for Sh-tters, had raised nearly $400 in donations (through PayPal) to Wherever the Need, almost enough to buy one toilet, Lieman said.

The effort includes a Web site that explains the campaign and includes a running tally of donations. As noted on the site, those who sign up and agree to spend a day sending out tweets on behalf of the campaign are being called "Daily Dumpers."

The fact that the initiative was bound to foster puns and scatological humor was discussed early in the process by those at Skadaddle. "The conversation was whether there is a risk of making fun of the whole idea and having it not being taken seriously enough," Lieman said. "We quickly flushed those concerns. The fact is that talking about it as it's been talked about, with euphemisms, has been unsuccessful."

In addition to the Twitter component, the campaign will have viral videos and several events. A Facebook fanpage has been created as well and Skadaddle has contacted about 80 bloggers who write about global sanitation issues and marketing.

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