At Work: Communications - Medium and message

Indira Das-Gupta

Keep Britain Tidy is running a shock campaign designed to stop people dropping food litter on the streets.

At the end of August, the charity hired professional stuntwoman Kerry Dunne to lie in a clear, Perspex box filled with rats and invited the press and television crews along to take pictures.

The box contained half-eaten kebabs and leftover sandwiches for the rats to feast on. And according to Laura Butcher, press officer at Keep Britain Tidy, Dunne wasn't too keen. "Kerry is used to jumping out of burning buildings, but she was really nervous beforehand," Butcher says. "She had to lie there for 40 minutes while the rats crawled all over her."

The stunt, which received extensive media coverage, was used to launch a new month-long campaign to stop people dropping food on the streets.

The charity has also produced an advert that is showing at cinemas around the country.

"We did a similar stunt four years ago, but this time we thought we'd go one better by getting a person to lie in the box with the rats," says Butcher. "We deliberately set out to shock because we are targeting 16 to 24-year-olds, who are most likely to drop litter."

The amount of food litter dropped by the public has increased by 450 per cent since 2001, and there are now 60 million rats in the UK - one for every person.

"By leaving all this food for them to eat, we are unintentionally breeding a new kind of super rat," says Butcher. "They are getting bigger and living longer."

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