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SDG3 target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination 


air quality checks

Where: The Netherlands

The challenge:

The air is full of invisible killers in the form of particulate matter and sulphur dioxide, but seven out of 10 Dutch people do not realise that the air they breathe is unhealthy. There are 500 poor air quality-related deaths each year in the country and on average, air pollution costs everyone in the Netherlands 13 months of life. 

 The Dutch charity Longfonds was concerned about the concentration of nitrogen oxide (NO2) in the atmosphere in the Netherlands. It wanted to draw attention to the problem and put it on the political agenda. We worked with the charity to create a high impact campaign to catch the public’s attention and make the invisible visible.  


The execution:

The campaign we created used geo-enabled digital media to give people a way of checking air pollution around them. People could go via their mobile to a dedicated website to check what they were really breathing in – taking a selfie revealed the pollutants that surrounded them in the very spot they were standing. This made the abstract concept of air quality very real for users. 

Advertising via TV, online media and interactive billboards introduced the ‘air quality check’ idea to the public.OOH had a special role to play as innovative technology was deployed on a billboard to live-stream data on the air-quality found nearby'. Video ads also appeared on Facebook and display ads (CPC) on media group Sanoma’s platforms. 

 The project was amplified with powerful PR-driven media coverage at national, regional and local levels. 

The details of the selfie air checks were compiled into a petition that was presented to the Dutch government, enabling the charity to lobby to create a National Air Plan. The handing over of the petition was live streamed on Facebook. 


The results:

The idea of checking your local air quality grabbed the imagination of the public, and there were 200,000 checks recorded in the first week alone. The checks reached a total of 400,000 by the end of the campaign, far exceeding the initial goal of 150,000. 

The campaign had strong reach with a third of the Dutch population seeing it in some form - 8% followed through by doing the test on the web platform. Awareness of Longfonds and its work rose from 72% to 80% over the two months of activity.  

Via clever use of technology and a message that was much more than ‘hot air’, we helped Longfonds raise the profile of the health threat posed by pollutants and their mission to improve air quality for all. 

Check out more inspiring examples of our work on SDG3.