Classic ‘Think Blue’ ads still warn polluters after all these years
From Think Blue's Don't Let Karma Get You ad. Photo courtesy of YouTube

Classic ‘Think Blue’ ads still warn polluters after all these years

One of the departments responsible for the millions in fines and upgrades the city will have to pay for stormwater treatment deficiencies was also responsible for popular — and Emmy-award winning — television commercials urging people to “Think Blue.”

Those ads use tourists covered in trash, angry bikers and dog waste magically transformed into rubber duckies to raise awareness about the dangers of washing gunk down storm drains. The campaign began in 2001, and ads have run on TV and in movie theaters.

“We wanted to reach as many people as possible with a memorable message about the importance of protecting our environment,” said Bill Harris, a spokesperson for the city’s transportation and stormwater department.

The “Think Blue” staff, including Tim Graham and Jennifer Kearns, found that viewers remembered funny commercials.

The city plans to continue the ads in 2015.

Most people experience stormwater and runoff pollution almost every day. Cigarette butts, pet waste and car oil can foul water that makes its way to the ocean and bays, even with proper treatment systems.

Stormwater drains take rain and runoff directly to the ocean.

Stormwater drains take rain and runoff
directly to the ocean.

The city has to make sure the water is filtered when it first enters the stormwater system through drains like the ones on sidewalks. Those are home to another well-known “Think Blue” initiative: the blue-and-white signs admonishing residents, in English and Spanish, to not dump trash because it goes directly to the ocean.

Those drain filters were in the headlines this week with an inewsource report on the city of San Diego’s failure to properly enforce regulations designed to treat stormwater. Stormwater pollution is a health risk to San Diegans and the wildlife that live in the ocean, bays and rivers. The city settled with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board to the tune of about $2.5 million in fines and infrastructure upgrade costs.

That settlement between the city and water board focused on the roles in stormwater treatment of the transportation and stormwater, development services and public works departments.

“Think Blue”’s ads covered everything from pet waste and oil, to loose leaves and littering.

Here are some classics:

This one is good:

This one is great:

This one is a classic:

And this one involves rubber ducks:

shadow-ornament

We'll let you know when big things happen.

About Leonardo Castañeda:

Leonardo Castañeda
Leonardo Castañeda is a reporter and economic analyst for inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email leocastaneda [at] inewsource [dot] org.