FKM Portrays WM as Clean, Green Machine

DALLAS A $20 million ad campaign from Fogarty Klein Monroe aims to clean up the image of the nation’s dominant trash hauler.

Three TV spots, including one breaking this week, promote Waste Management’s recycling program and show how the company can convert a trash dump into a scenic landscape.

“This is not an aspirational campaign,” said FKM senior vice president and creative director Suzie Jennings. “It is proof of performance for Waste Management. Anyone can do a ‘what if’ ad, and many companies do. But you don’t have to imagine a better world if you are already making it happen. That is the beauty of these ads.”

The messages for the campaign were developed during six months of research by Houston-based FKM, which found the themes resonating the most were based on the company’s performance facts such as its paper-recycling program that saves trees. Ads also say that WM can produce enough power from its collections to generate electricity for more than 1 million homes.

The beauty of the ads is enhanced by the direction of cinematographer Eric Saarinen of Plum Productions and visual effects master Phil Brennan of Asylum Visual Effects.

Saarinen, who has helmed campaigns for Jeep, United Airlines, Reebok, Hoover, Lexus, Levi’s, Coca-Cola, Miller Beer, Mercedes and Chevy, was nominated for an Academy Award for one of his short films.

FKM selected HUM Music and Sound Design of Santa Monica, Calif., to provide the emotional soundtrack.

FKM personnel who worked on the campaign included vice president, account director Brooke Betts, senior copywriter Dave Steinbach, senior art director Rex Gee and broadcast producer Laurie Mitchell.

Waste Management, created by Blockbuster Video founder Wayne Huizenga, grew rapidly through acquisition. When FKM won the account it 2001, it found a lack of consistency in brand image, the agency said.

“It was clear that we had to unify the organization under one brand so that we could speak to the public in one voice,” said Jennings.

The second challenge was how to give garbage a good name, she said. At the onset of the contract, FKM did a news analysis for the client and found that 85 percent of the news about Waste Management was negative. FKM’s charge was to turn that number around if it was going to get the desired impact from branding.

“Early in the project we concluded that the way to move Waste Management to a positive perception was to take a twofold approach—communicate the company’s good works and change the public understanding of what garbage collection is all about,” said Betts.

FKM launched a campaign called “Think green,” which led to the unified branding of Waste Management in 2003. By 2005, the company was clad in green and the first ad designed to improve unaided awareness broke in September last year.

“The work FKM has done for our company has turned the lights on for Waste Management,” said Dave Aardsma, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Now people everywhere notice our green trucks and containers.”