Aquanomics quantified the economic impact of water risk, revealing that droughts, floods and storms could wipe $5.6 trillion from global GDP between 2022 and 2050.
GHD is a global professional services company with leading engineering, design, advisory and digital expertise. But despite being a leader in delivering the complex infrastructure that supports our lives, the company was struggling to make its voice heard. GHD set Man Bites Dog the challenge of developing a campaign that would raise awareness of its pivotal role in solving the world’s most complex infrastructure challenges, position the firm as a global thought leader and create a platform for client relationship-building in key global markets.
Man Bites Dog set out to create a campaign platform that would not only raise awareness of GHD but use its influence to campaign for change on a global issue that impacts the planet, communities and businesses. Our research showed that the infrastructure agenda was dominated by decarbonisation.
We identified the clear blue space for GHD to lead the global conversation on a vitally important but neglected agenda: water. In 2021, floods, droughts and storms impacted 100 million people, and the UN estimates that 2.3 billion people are currently living in areas of water stress. But despite the growing urgency of this issue, water is not receiving the attention, investment or action it requires.
Our big idea, ‘Aquanomics', put the challenge of water risk high on the business and government agenda by quantifying the economic impact of water risk and highlighting GHD as experts in the solution: water resilience. Our strategy was to make clients and wider stakeholders care by demonstrating the financial impact of water risk, thereby creating a powerful business case for early investment in water resilience.
Man Bites Dog set out to create a campaign that would highlight water risk and resilience by projecting – for the first time – the comprehensive economic impact of future water risk at a country and sector level. To achieve this Man Bites Dog co-designed a bespoke economic model combining global insurance projections of water risk with a macroeconomic simulation of the global economy to estimate the wider GDP impact of droughts, floods and storms between 2022 and 2050. By focusing on commercial and societal impact, this campaign aimed to reach beyond the water industry to gain the attention of global policy influencers and heads of industry.
Our resulting campaign – Aquanomics – revealed that droughts, floods and storms could wipe $5.6 trillion from global GDP between 2022 and 2050.
Our groundbreaking study covered 10 geographies and 5 industry sectors across GHD’s footprint, representing a diverse range of climates. For example, our model predicted that the US could face $3.7 trillion in damages by 2050 – equal to 0.5% of annual GDP. The study also demonstrated how water risk could impact individual sectors, for instance demonstrating that Australia’s mighty agricultural sector could face output losses of $119 billion.
To supplement the economic findings, we also engaged renowned water influencer Dr Ania Grobicki to provide insight into how these increasingly frequent and severe climatic events will impact global communities and ecosystems in GHD’s focus regions. The campaign was launched globally with a suite of content assets, including a highly-visual interactive microsite, video, BD toolkit and coordinated global PR rollout.
As GHD’s first truly global thought leadership campaign, Aquanomics transformed GHD’s profile and provided the blueprint for future marketing campaigns, exceeding expectations across all three core objectives:
Reputation: Aquanomics delivered a transformative step change in brand awareness, achieving top-tier media impact from a standing start. The campaign secured over 1,400 pieces of coverage across GHD’s focus markets (around 40% of which was broadcast) and a 46% share of voice in the week after launch. Top-tier media hits were achieved across GHD’s target markets including a feature in Fortune Magazine, and coverage in Reuters, CTV, The Australian, The Manila Times and Bloomberg – reaching over 900 million people in total according to independent coverage analysis. The research findings also featured in a blog post by Canada's most prominent environmentalist David Suzuki. The Aquanomics microsite received more than 15,000 unique visitors and campaign content received more than 1.3 million impressions on social media.
Relationships: Aquanomics enabled GHD to take its rightful place as an expert thought leader amongst relevant peers, with our world-first research empowering the company to share its message at the UN’s Conference of Parties (COP) for the first time. Global Water Lead, Rod Naylor, and Dr Ania Grobicki showcased the research in a number of presentations and roundtable discussions exploring water risk at COP27.
Revenue: The campaign provided GHD’s local teams with tailored data to fuel discussions, with the bespoke BD toolkit downloaded over 2,000 times. Since launch, GHD’s Water team has engaged more than 300 new corporate prospects using the Aquanomics content and received 39 high-value inbound prospect enquires as a direct result of the campaign.