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City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program Wins California Environmental Protection Agency "Innovative Program" Award

Bakersfield CA– The California Environmental Protection Agency awarded the City of Los AngelesÕ Used Oil Public Education Program its prestigious 2003 Program Innovation Award on May 14, 2003 at the Southern California Household Hazardous Waste/Used Oil Information Exchange conference in Bakersfield, CA.

The City of Los Angeles, Watershed Protection Division (WPD) received this award for developing a unique bilingual public education program that strategically directs its message at automotive do-it-yourselfers who may be illegally dumping their used motor oil. The program has been remarkably successful. In the first year, the campaign saw a 120% increase in calls to the oil recycling hotline (888-CLEAN-LA) and a 9% increase in used oil collected at certified centers.

ÒIn designing the campaign, our first step was to understand our audience,Ó stated Shahram Kharaghani, Watershed Protection Division Manager. ÒTo achieve this, we analyzed three separate marketing studies regarding used oil do-it-yourselfers. From this data, we found two key audiences. The first audience, required an innovative approach sharply divergent from the second more traditional, older audience,Ó continued Kharaghani.

Understanding this research helped focus the campaign around three key elements:

  1. the campaign image,
  2. the messenger and
  3. the time and place where the message is delivered.

For the campaign Òlook,Ó using the words ÒYour StreetÓ WPD developed an urban-styled image that would attract the attention of the intended audience. Outreach materials (shop rags, flyers) using this image proved to be effective in ÒhookingÓ used oil do-it-yourselfers who were given the used oil recycling message. Ensuring that the right messenger delivered the message was also crucial in developing an effective campaign. WPD discovered that the message needed to be delivered by their own peers, and not an outside entity. A message perceived to be as preaching, authoritarian or from a government agency would be immediately rejected. To overcome this challenge, WPD partnered with local car clubs, whose members delivered the used oil recycling information.

Distributing outreach materials at a time and place where do-it-yourselfers are thinking about their cars was the last important campaign element. To achieve this, WPD distributed information at car shows when do-it-yourselfers are getting ideas for car projects. WPD partnered with 13 local car clubs whose members brought their cars to the car shows and distributed the used oil-recycling message on behalf of the City. These messengers along with the campaign theme built an image for the campaign as well as credibility with the audiences.

The partnerships also multiplied the number of people promoting the message. Car club staff members outreached over 76,000 car enthusiasts while attending local car shows. These car club partnerships also proved significant in leveraging the campaignÕs budget. Through these partnerships, the Watershed Protection Division was able to expand the number of do-it-yourselfers reached without an increase to the budget. The cost savings in 2002 equaled $9,000.

If you would like more information about the CityÕs Used Oil Recycling Program, please call (323) 342-1570. If you are interested in receiving information on the used oil recycling center nearest you, please call (800) CLEAN-LA.