Tideway: To Swim or Not?

The Tideway Tunnel is being built to clean up the Thames. Awareness is good amongst older Londoners but less than a quarter of 18–35-year-olds are aware of the project and the environmental benefits it will bring.

Our campaign was engaging for young Londoners by providing a lighter story which wouldn’t see media relegate it to engineering pages.

With swimming pools and lidos closed due to the pandemic, we asked the question where would Londoners be able to cool down? Our hypothesis was that some may be tempted to swim in the Thames.

We partnered with Opinium to conduct research into Londoner’s attitudes to swimming in the Thames and their awareness around its sewage levels.

For our campaign face, we looked for someone with audience relevance, media appeal and who could talk credibly about the project. Step forward Wes Nelson – engineer, wild swimmer and Love Island star.  To ensure authenticity, we teamed him up with one of Tideway’s young female engineers and took him on a tour of the tunnel.

Wes also participated in an eye-catching photo shoot – away from the glamour of the Love Island villa and on to the dirty banks of the River Thames.

The content was released to coincide with a heatwave giving it a real ‘why now’ reason, landing prime-time slots on BBC News and Good Morning Britain and blanket national coverage. All coverage included the research results.


  • Mass social engagement resulted in 1,000+ new followers for Tideway leading to the establishment of a new audience base in the 25-34 age group.

Awards & Accolades:

  • Finalist – PRmoment Awards 2021 – Best Use of Research