Behind The Work


Communications Project Manager
America is facing a water crisis. But 75% of dishwasher users still pre-rinse their dishes, which wastes 20 gallons of water every load. With Finish Quantum, you don’t have to pre-rinse. 

Here, Kelsey Steele, Group Strategy Director at Havas New York, tells Dare! how Finish teamed up with National Geographic and The Nature Conservancy to get the word out and ask America to Skip the Rinse.

What was the brief for this campaign?

Finish is a perennial challenger to Cascade in the U.S. dishwasher detergent market. To grow share, we needed to drive trial of our hero product, Finish Quantum. But to do that, we knew we needed to go beyond clean dishes… we needed to connect with a higher order purpose that could get habit-driven shoppers to CARE to switch. The fact was, the category had always taken for granted that dishwashing requires water – a precious, finite natural resource – and with 40/50 states facing a water crisis in the next decade, this problem was only growing more urgent. And yet, 3 in 4 dishwasher users pre-rinsed their dishes before the dishwasher – an unnecessary habit they had no idea wasted 20 gallons per load. With a new formula that was designed to work without pre-rinsing, we knew we had an opportunity to do something about this. So, we developed a campaign to inspire people to put an end to their wasteful pre-rinsing habit and help save America’s water.

“In a world where people are overwhelmed by the climate crisis and not sure where to start, we wanted to reinforce pragmatism and progress over perfection.”

What is the message it sets out to amplify?

Our key idea was “Together with Finish Quantum, together we can put an end to pre-rinsing and save water.” We wanted to show the impact of this behaviour change on both individual and collective levels – not only could each person save 20 gallons with every dishwasher load, but if every American skipped the rinse, in a single year that would add up to 150 BILLION gallons of water. In a world where people are overwhelmed by the climate crisis and not sure where to start, we wanted to reinforce pragmatism and progress over perfection… and this felt like a small, doable step that could really add up to a big difference. And, of course, we wanted to reinforce that skipping the rinse with Finish Quantum actually works – because that’s exactly what it was designed to do. 

Why were National Geographic and The Nature Conservancy chosen as partners?

We recognised that we had a lot to communicate – not only did we need to show Finish Quantum lets you skip the rinse, we also needed to convey the urgency of saving water in a country where not everyone was actively aware of the problem. Reckitt had a successful storytelling partnership with National Geographic in Turkey, so we wanted to carry that over to the U.S. and use their expertise and credibility to help educate about water scarcity in America. But we also wanted to put our money where our mouth was, so we partnered with The Nature Conservancy as a non-profit partner, donating $100K to their ongoing water conservation efforts to help prove our commitment to the cause.

“If every American skipped the rinse, in a single year that would add up to 150 BILLION gallons of water.”

The campaign recently won a Grand Prix at the WARC Awards for Effectiveness. Why do you think it connected so well with the jury?

It was enlightening to hear the judges talk about the Brand Purpose category as almost a ‘dirty word,’ because so many brands seem to approach it opportunistically or with short-lived, charitable gestures. Our case seemed to impress them because it had a real, credible role for the product. It wasn’t just a purpose we were trying to attach ourselves to, it was an entirely new way of framing the product benefit and thinking about the role the category plays in a larger sustainability conversation. It also was tied to real, demonstrable behaviour change and a collective impact that really added up to something bigger.

How do you think Finish’s commitment to the planet compares to its competitors?

It’s an interesting time for the home cleaning space – there are so many upstarts introducing new sustainable formats and packaging, and we’re learning from them every day – as well as other players outside CPG. But we also try to balance sustainability with cleaning performance that actually works – an efficient use of resources that gets the job done right the first time. On that end of the spectrum, our biggest competitor, Cascade, is also beginning to talk about the water that dishwashers can help save. But they seem to be emphasizing savings on your energy bill more than the importance of saving water for our planet’s future. We think we’ve found a more powerful purpose – a way to motivate people to change their behaviour, but also to show what we’re doing to change, and ultimately, a cause to work toward that’s bigger than ourselves.

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