Yorkshire Water

The Bear Essentials – Getting Winter Ready

  • Creative
  • PR
  • Social Media

Campaign snapshot

Winter is a crucial time for utility company Yorkshire Water: avoidable problems like freezing pipes can cause water cut-offs in homes and even result in burst pipes, causing havoc both in home and in the wider water network. To help Yorkshire Water prevent cold-related issues in people’s homes and associated problem in the wider infrastructure, it engages communities to encourage preparation for the winter months.

Umpf was tasked with engaging with the community in Yorkshire to encourage them to take steps to prepare their homes for winter and also identify vulnerable households who would be registered on Yorkshire Water’s priority service list.

How we did it

Because we understand that water leaks and lagging pipes isn’t the most engaging topic, we created a community outreach strategy that would present the issue and information in an eye-catching and engaging manner, combining media relations, social media outreach, and experiential.

Experiential: To reach a large audience, drive face-to-face conversations, and put Winter Preparedness packs directly into people’s hands, we held an event at Leeds’ busiest shopping centre, Trinity Leeds. To draw in the crowds, we created an igloo – built from pipe lagging – in the central atrium, in a high footfall area outside the Apple store. To create the shareable, experiential moment we took Penny – an incredibly realistic animatronic polar bear – into the shopping centre to mingle with shoppers. As well as creating a selfie opportunity, it allowed Yorkshire Water staff to engage shoppers in conversations around water leaks and lagging pipes.

Media: We knew that local media was a great vehicle to reach people across the Leeds region. We used the polar bear and igloo as a photo opportunity and a news hook to talk to the media about the campaign, delivering the serious message about winter preparedness. We pitched the story to local print, online and broadcast media.

Social media: We used highly targeted social media advertising across Facebook and Twitter to reach a wider group of people and also to specifically reach those in vulnerable groups, or those with close contacts in vulnerable groups. Video footage of ‘Penny the polar bear’ and an interview with a Yorkshire Water spokesperson was included in the social outreach.

The results

Our Winter Preparedness campaign reached over 2 million people in the region. All communications included campaign key messages.

We generated significant local media coverage (print, online and TV) which helped us to reach a large audience including a large number of those in the vulnerable bracket.

Our social media activity generated 547,105 impressions and generated 204,082 video views and 106,810 engagements. Our activity targeted at vulnerable people drove 785 people directly to the priority register.

Campaign highlights


social impressions


social video views


social engagements