COPI uses raw sewage to smear the MPs who voted for it to continue being dumped in UK rivers

Using an unmissable font made out of excrement, the campaign petitions for the eradication of sewage from British waterways

In a UK election year when the power of voter opinion is at its peak, creative industry alliance Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) are galvanising the public to help prevent sewage dumping once and for all – with help from the exact same effluent water companies are dumping into British waters.

The “Smear Campaign”, developed by AMV BBDO, draws attention to the personal impact of sewage dumping in an unmissable way, using a hyper-realistic font made from excrement and other raw sewage products in all its revolting glory to ‘smear’ those responsible.

Recent figures from the Environmental Agency show that there were 3.6 million hours of raw sewage spills into England’s rivers and seas by water companies in 2023* – the equivalent of on average 1,271 spills per day. Concerningly, sewage spills containing human waste, wet wipes, and condoms have doubled since 2022.

Using live dumping data to coincide with real sewage surges, COPI and AMV BBDO will project their message on iconic landmarks near sewage outlets – as well as live billboards outside parliament and in affected boroughs. When sewage is dumped, they smear those responsible with their impossible-to-ignore sewage font – MPs from both parties who voted for targets that allow 15 more years of dumping untreated wastewater.

Humphrey Milles, founder of the Central Office of Public Interest, said, “In a country where polls tell us that sewage dumping plays a big role in how people vote in the forthcoming election, we turn a complex issue into simple facts. Sometimes, if you want people to clean up their act, you’ve got to play dirty.”

The foul font’s base layer is made from excrement that shows up in many different shapes, sizes, and textures. To make it even more visceral, layers of sewage waste including excrement, lumps of congealed fats and foams, decaying organic matter, used toilet paper, discarded old condoms, dirty plasters, maggots, and flies (to name but a few) have all been added. Similarly, physical excrement smears and juicy puddles were added as photographic decorative background elements, to tie the scene and convey the idea of the type being freshly scooped out of the water.

AMV BBDO Art Director on this campaign, Mario Kerkstra, said the font was created the hard way. He said: “We went to various waterways to collect raw sewage ourselves. We then used the set of items we found as references to create the font and its many components. It was important that, from an art directorial point of view, the many textures, shapes and colours looked as realistic as possible.” 

The photo-realistic font was brought to life in collaboration with typography artists Sean Freeman & Eve Steben. About the creative process, Sean & Eve added: “With legibility and authenticity in mind, we approached the dimensional structure of our lettering by developing a combination of various excrements and soft body water waste elements using procedural textures, magnifying the look with curated photographic components styled by hand. Once brought together, our fantastically filthy sewage treatment features could be fully customised to feel as natural and off-putting as possible.”

Other elements of the campaign highlight how water pollution is tarnishing our lives, and the lives of those we love. Compelling lines include “Your dog is drinking this”, “Your MPs voted for this”, “You’re swimming in this,” and “You’re rowing in this” all spelled out in waste matter.

As well as OOH posters, the campaign will be displayed in other relevant media, including placards by riverside pollution hotspots, and even notices above public toilets that read “You flush, they dump”. Ocean Outdoor has donated sites for the campaign with support from Grand Visual and Talon.

The campaign messaging drives people to a website where they can find out whether their MP’s hands are clean or not. Visitors to the site are encouraged to sign a petition to set a meaningful target date to eradicate sewage from British waterways. 

AMV BBDO’s last campaign with COPI,, successfully lobbied for meaningful change to legislation impacting air quality. The creative approach to such a serious health issue also won a Grand Prix for Good at Cannes 2021, thanks to its campaigning work that provided access to accurate air quality reports for every postcode in London.


Client: Central Office of Public Interest (COPI)

Campaign title: The Smear Campaign

Client name: Humphrey Milles

Creative Agency: AMV BBDO

CCOs: Nicholas Hulley and Nadja Lossgott

Creative Directors: Jack Smedley and George Hackforth-Jones

Art Director: Mario Kerkstra

Creative Team: Laurens Grainger and Alicia Cliffe

Agency Planning Team: Rebecca Brett and Bea Farmelo

Agency Account Team: Ella Dolding and Laura Balfour

Agency Producer: Maggie Scriven, Ella Dolding

Media Agency: Jay Young – Grand Visual & Shenney O’Hara – Talon

Design Agency: SEAN & EVE

Typography: Sean Freeman & Eve Steben

Photography, 3D & Illustration: Sean Freeman

Art Production: Eve Steben

You must be logged in to post a comment Login