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Social marketing campaign wins award for innovative approach to reducing deliberate grassfires

09 June 2011

A collaborative project which drew on expertise at Cardiff University to reduce the incidence of deliberate grassfires in South Wales has won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Excellence award for Best Public Sector Campaign.

The Bernie project involved a partnership between staff at the University’s ESRC Centre for Business Relationships Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) and Cardiff Business School in collaboration with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) and Alexander Consultants.

The innovative project encouraged youngsters to get involved in a programme of Easter activities including bush-craft skills, DJ skills, abseiling, filmmaking, ‘Fire-fighter for a Day’, and graffiti workshops.

Dr Sue Peattie provided the expertise in behavioural change and social marketing around which the campaign was built. She explains, "The project involved getting to know and understand the youngsters in South Wales Valleys communities responsible for starting grassfires, and developing a package of measures to discourage them.

"The scheme created a package of deterrents and education, including a programme of activities to keep them busy during the Spring 'grassfire season'."

In Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf where the Bernie campaign was first trialled, the incidence of grassfires fell by as much as 46%, three times its original target.

This year the project has expanded in Rhondda Cynon Taf, and extended to three other areas in the South Wales Valleys: Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, and Caerphilly.

The CIPR judges commented: "This campaign tackled a deep rooted, locally accepted crime, that of young people setting fire to grass in the valleys of South Wales. In partnership with Cardiff University, South Wales Fire & Rescue service, researched, planned and combined extraordinary creativity with academic rigor to achieve outstanding results. This has set a new standard in behaviour change campaigns"

The CIPR Excellence Awards are the most credible in the PR profession, and are currently in their 26th year. Shortlisted entrants were invited for interview by a panel of judges comprising PR experts, and winners were announced at an awards dinner in London on June 1st 2011.


Further Information

The entry submission can be viewed here:

More information about the Bernie project can be found here:

Catrin Palfrey
Public Relations Office,
Cardiff University.
Tel: 029 2087 0293

Dr Sue Peattie
Lecturer in Marketing
Cardiff Business School
Tel: 029 2087 5723


Notes to Editors:

1. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.

2. ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS)

The Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) was established by the Economic and Social Research Council in October 2001. They are based at Cardiff University, and have an interdisciplinary nature combining expertise from the Business School, the Law School and the School of City and Regional Planning. The Centre exists to understand and promote the key issues of sustainability, accountability and social responsiveness, through research into key business relationships. Visit the centre website at:

3. Cardiff Business School

Cardiff is widely regarded as one of the best business and management schools in the UK. In the most recent UK Government assessment of the quality of research in British universities, the School was ranked fourth in the UK. 70% of the School’s research was classified as either world-leading or internationally excellent.

The School’s research is organised around its five Academic Sections: Accounting and Finance, Economics, Human Resource Management, Logistics and Operations Management, a Marketing and Strategy. It hosts large scale research centres such as the Centre for Local and Regional Government Research, Cardiff University Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre and the ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Society and Sustainability.

The largest academics department of the University, the School has a global reputation for teaching and learning. A faculty of international repute delivers teaching to 2,500 students a year and was assessed as ‘excellent’ in the last independent assessment of teaching in UK universities. The School has one of the largest doctoral programmes within the UK, with 150 PhD students.