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About this initiative

How can you make the invisible visible? Every day we breathe in particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and ozone, which is detrimental to our lungs and our overall health. But seven out of ten Dutch people do not realise that the air they breathe is unhealthy. How can we draw attention to this problem, raise funds for charity and put it on the political agenda?  

The United Nations describes indoor and ambient air pollution as “the greatest environmental health risk”. Outdoor air pollution from traffic, industrial sources, waste burning or residential fuel combustion resulted in an estimated 3 million deaths in 2015. That’s why a target to substantially reduce deaths as a result of air pollution is part of SDG 3 Good health and well-being in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The Dutch charity Longfonds is concerned about the concentration of nitrogen oxide (NO2) in the atmosphere in the Netherlands, now that sulfur dioxide (SO2) has been tackled. Working with agency Havas Lemz in Amsterdam, wanted to make the invisible visible. Helped by agencies Carat and Posterscope, it developed a campaign that would do two things: use geo-enabled, digital media to give people a way of checking air pollution around them and lobby politicians to create a National Air Plan.  

The campaign consisted of TV, online media and interactive billboards to introduce the air quality check in The Netherlands. Especially in outdoor communication an innovative way of advertising was used: technology had to be developed and installed to live stream the exact air quality near the billboard. Different video platforms were used such as TV, pre-rolls and video ads on Facebook, as well as display ads (CPC) on the Sanoma to generate interest. The campaign delivered 200,000 checks in the first week alone, and reached a total of 400,000 by the end of the run (the initial goal having been 150,000).


Taken altogether, 33% of the Dutch population saw the campaign and 8% did the test on the platform. This moved the brand awareness of the charity Longfonds from 72% to 80% in 2 months. The campaign received an enormous amount of press coverage on national, regional and local levels and lots of free publicity, creating a great return on investment on free or discounted media provided by the agencies.


All the checks from the campaign were handed to the Dutch government the day after the campaign ended as a petition, with the presentation being streamed live on Facebook. The charity is hopeful the government will publish its draft plan by Q4 2018.