#TurdTag – getting creative to tackle dog poo

A blog post by Heather McLaughlin

Heather McLaughlin
Campaigns Coordinator – Litter and LEQ

Posted 06/05/2020

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We all know that dog poo, either left where it landed or bagged and abandoned, is grim. Over the last few years, and particularly during this period of lockdown, more and more of you are telling us that it is getting worse and that something needs to be done to address it. So, we got our thinking caps on, had a play with some puns, and came up with our #TurdTag campaign! Heather McLaughlin, our campaigns officer responsible for this emotive hashtag campaign, tells us how it was born and what we are trying to achieve.

As you can imagine, developing #TurdTag provided a lot of laughs. We know from our surveys that dog poo is found on almost 10% of the sites we assess, so last year at our all staff away day, we scoped out the potential for a campaign to highlight the problem of dog poo.  With no boundaries we were able to start from scratch, get creative and really consider what would make a great campaign and how we could motivate people to get involved.  I vividly remember jotting down all the words for ‘poo’ we could think of and trying to work them into suitable puns (as you will have seen through our social media channels these have been very useful).

Someone commented on a #TurdTag Facebook post – Did KSB really have a meeting about this? And I’m afraid to say that this really is the sort of thing we have meetings about, and believe me, we wish we didn’t!  Dog fouling has been an issue that we, alongside local authorities, community groups and schools, have been trying to reduce for years.

I was thrilled when our management team approved the use of #TurdTag (I have to confess, I wasn’t sure they would) and the onslaught of poo puns that followed. I then got to enjoy briefing our design officer, Gary, on creating cute and fun dog poo illustrations to use on social media. I wasn’t sure how he’d take this or what he’d come up with but the email I got from him with the final designs read: I really enjoyed putting eyes and a smile on it and making it a three tier instead of 2 tier!

So, with #TurdTag coming to an end, I am delighted by how many people have got involved. There’s nothing better to start each working day than logging into our Twitter channel and seeing streams of images of dog poo and post after post using our hashtag. #TeamKSBScot has such a glamourous job!

I hope the campaign has successfully reminded people how disgusting and prevalent dog poo is in our communities. Whether it’s from reading the social media posts or actively taking part (or maybe just watching others take part) I’m sure the campaign has put a smile on everyone’s face, and for those offended we are sorry, but the time had come for a different approach. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve giggled in a virtual meeting when I’ve come up with a new pun to use!

The campaign has been engaging, had great coverage and prompted a fantastic response from the public. But, the fact of the matter is, dog fouling is disgusting. And, all puns aside, it is a national problem which requires a Scotland-wide, coordinated approach to change the behaviour of irresponsible dog owners. We work hard to provide appropriate information through education activities and campaigns and ensure that there are bins suitable for dog poo available and emptied regularly. And where these two approaches don’t change behaviour we must focus on enforcement and fines.  Not only is dog fouling unsightly and illegal, but it’s also a human health hazard.  It can also have a big impact on the agriculture industry – dog poo left in fields harms livestock and damages crops.

More than ever, during this period of lockdown, we need to remember that our environment is of huge importance to our health and wellbeing, but I also think we all need something to laugh at – and what better way to do that than with toilet humour?

One final thought – #TurdTag isn’t a flash in the pan (last pun I swear!). We plan to use the data and enthusiasm to develop a coordinated dog fouling campaign in Scotland. For this campaign we will work with local authorities, community groups and other organisations to design and roll out interventions and messaging. We will monitor any progress we make so that it can be replicated and adapted in other areas. A successful campaign needs support and funding from all sectors and hopefully #TurdTag has reminded us all how prevalent this problem is and will encourage everyone to get involved. Whilst we plan, we will continue to encourage owners to be responsible, bag their waste and put it in the bin, and if there’s no bin or the one they find is full our message is simply ‘take it home’. Your dog, your poo, your responsibility.

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