Case Study

Unblocktober was created by I-COM for Lanes for Drains (Lanes) - the largest privately owned drainage and wastewater utility specialist in the UK, employing over 2,200 staff in 25 depots and a range of utility hubs across the country.

The Challenge


Lanes for Drains is one of the leading voices in the sector for raising awareness and encouraging action to prevent two critical environmental issues: the development of fatbergs in sewers, and plastic pollution in water courses.

Lanes asked us to create a corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign that would encourage the public to help prevent these issues, while also raising brand awareness of the company.

The Campaign


To achieve the above goals, I-COM devised Unblocktober - the world's first national campaign and awareness month aimed at improving the health of our drains, sewers, watercourses and seas.

Launched in July 2019, Unblocktober participants committed to putting nothing down their drains or toilets except for water, pee, poo and toilet paper. The singular objective was to encourage the public to take action, without which these damaging environmental issues will worsen.

We knew that if people adopted different habits for a month, they'd be more likely to develop into permanent habits. So the concept was simple: make small changes to your kitchen and bathroom habits for one month to have a big impact on the environment.

The Approach


For the campaign to be effective in motivating participants to take action, we knew it needed to empower people and make them feel emotionally connected to the three key messages:

  1. You can directly contribute to change
  2. Make SMALL changes to your habits for a limited amount of time to make a BIG impact
  3. Now is the time for action

What encourages people to actually change their behaviour? The knowledge that they can make a direct difference to the environment, the feeling they get from sharing this virtuous behaviour with others and a commitment to only making small changes to their habits for a limited period of time.

What We Did


Branding, Website Design and Website Development
We began by designing, developing and populating a single-page, mobile-responsive website with eye-catching logo. The website was an integral part of the campaign, acting as a hub where people could learn more about the issues and register to take part

Branded Assets
Branded assets included a video, social media frames, badges and certificates for participants to use and display, as well as resource packs for businesses and individual registrations

Email Marketing
We designed and set up an automated email marketing campaign to trigger after participants registered on the site, delivering the resource packs automatically, alongside encouraging and inspirational messaging to build and sustain momentum before, during and after October. 

Social Media Marketing
We set up the Unblocktober Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels, with support from paid social media advertising, to attract supporters and encourage engagement from participants

PR & Outreach
We conducted a PR and outreach campaign to spread the word, and reached out to environmental groups, businesses and utility companies to gather official support

Email Marketing

Resource Packs


Social Media Frames

Paid Ads

Campaign Success


Through word of mouth, the Environment Agency and Water UK got in touch with I-COM to find out how Unblocktober could work in tandem with their Love Water campaign, allowing us access to Love Water partners such as the Marine Conservation Society, The National Trust, Ofwat and many more.

After Unblocktober ended, 86% of participants said they were able to avoid putting FOG down their drains every single day during the initiative.

92% stated they avoided flushing items containing ‘hidden plastics’ every day.

The Overall Results


Over 4,500 people from across the UK signed up to take part in Unblocktober in 2019.

The 45+ organisations that lent their official support to the campaign included:

  • Thames Water
  • The Rivers Trust
  • Surfers Against Sewage

50 pieces of coverage, including features on ITV and BBC news.

An estimated 1.5 million people reached on social media. The Unblocktober platforms achieved 335.2k impressions, 10.5k engagements and 2.5k link clicks.

14,000 visitors to the the Unblocktober website between July and December 2019.

Unblocktober has proved so successful that I-COM expects to make it an annual event, with ongoing an email marketing, PR and outreach campaign. 

1.5 million
People Reached on Social Media
Visitors to the Unblocktober Website
People Took Part in Unblocktober

The Unblocktober campaign was a totally new concept for Lanes Group and we took a leap of faith with the campaign, once the concept had been outlined to us. Lanes’ CSR objectives very much revolve around education, focused around the valuable work that we do on the wastewater and drainage network and educating ‘toilet users’ that their toilet is not a bin especially for the dreaded wipe.

Couple that with how they can all help save the sewers and seas, Unblocktober has a very important environmental message. Connecting the two aspects is very important to create awareness environmentally. Our digital agency I-COM created a very focused campaign with targets and objectives on a very limited budget. Their support throughout the campaign was really important, as the campaign was very fluid developing daily.

The I-COM team were enthusiastic and also hardworking, because they also believed in the campaign objectives. The results speak for themselves. Feedback was good and the campaign received engagement with some high profile supporters who believed that the creative concept was good, so good that they really got behind it.

These stakeholders all have the same aims, objectives and messaging, so it was pleasing to see their support develop. One unified voice creates momentum, and this is exactly what Unblocktober did - using a simple hashtag #Unblocktober many organisations spoke as one voice across social media platforms.

Considering we truly did not know what to expect and how the campaign would be received, we were delighted with the results. We most certainly consider the campaign to be successful and have retained I-COM to assist us with the Unblocktober in 2020.

Michelle Ringland, Head of Marketing at Lanes for Drains

Digital Marketing Specialists

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