Chesapeake Bay Trust Case Study


The Chesapeake Bay license plates or “Bay Plates” are a major funding source for the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT). The plates only cost $20, but this non-profit could never improve its 10% penetration rate. Most Maryland drivers thought they could only get new plates when they bought a car or renewed their registration; some wondered where the money really went; and many did not understand the good work the Trust does to improve the health of the Bay.


Using target audience research to understand awareness levels and barriers to entry, we created trackable, cost-effective strategies to raise awareness and create an on and offline buzz around the Bay Plates. The campaign creative cut through several misconceptions by driving home the direct results funded by Bay Plate sales with bold graphics and short, hard-hitting facts. Once we attracted interest, our interactive web site finished conveying the benefits and made the purchase process easy. Highly integrated media strategy:
  • Traditional Outdoor & Radio – carefully selected to maximize reach in the state’s larger media markets with high residual exposure to surrounding areas.
  • Online – natural and paid search, plus targeted regional online ad network buys.
  • 200 ambient signs statewide – strategically placed in parks, schoolyards, on dumpsters – Bay Factoids in high traffic locations that highlighted the importance of the work.
  • SMS Contest – Residents who found one of our Bay Factoid signs could text a picture or enter online to win $2500 cash or one of 100 free Bay Plates.
  • Public Relations – Ambient signage in every city and town, each connected with the unique contest, helped spark coverage in dozens of local and regional publications across the state.
  • Social Media – Built buzz for the contest on Facebook and Twitter and engaged environmentally-conscious residents on niche blogs, forums and sites.


We far exceeded the CBT’s modest goal and forever changed their marketing approach by posting a 53% increase in Bay Plate sales.

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