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Safer angling



BBD helps RNLI extend
safe angling message

More than a million people in the UK and Ireland enjoy angling –
either from a boat or from the shore. While angling might not
seem like a particularly dangerous costal sport, RNLI lifeboats
were launched 611 times to anglers in 2015.

Respect the Water

Angling is just one of the activities that the RNLI is targeting in their prevention campaigning this year. Respect the Water is a campaign at the heart of RNLI prevention work, aimed at promoting safety advice to all who visit the coast, from walkers to commercial fisherman and anglers.

Around 200 people die each year from accidentally drowning in coastal waters around the UK and Ireland. That’s too many by any standard, but the RNLI – the charity that saves lives at sea – has set itself the target of halving coastal fatalities by 2024 on its mission to end preventable loss of life at sea.

BBD + RNLI team up again

Earlier in the year, BBD collaborated with the RNLI on another successful prevention campaigns targeted at scuba divers. Their latest campaign challenge would extend on this messaging but would need to talk directly to the hearts and minds of Anglers.

The campaign would target two specific types of angler – those who fish off the rocks, and those who fish from a boat. Surprisingly, it is the latter group that is statistically at less risk. For both types of angler, the RNLI wanted to stress the importance of carrying a lifejacket and a means of calling for help, with an additional reminder to sea-going anglers to take the time for boat safety checks before launch.



Getting to know Anglers

According to extensive research by the RNLI prior to brief, shore anglers got into trouble for a number of reasons. They were more likely to have arranged the trip at the last minute, with insufficient equipment and preparation, and often in search of harder-to-reach, secluded fishing spots. They often saw a lifejacket as a burden and underestimated the need to stay in contact with others. The danger to this group was either being swept off the rocks, falling off rocks, or becoming caught by incoming tides.

Boat anglers, on the other hand, tended to be older, more experienced and well aware of the need to be safe at sea. However, they were vulnerable to complacency. The RNLI wanted to remind them that no license or permit was a substitute for taking the proper safety equipment and running the necessary pre-launch safety and equipment checks.


A challenge for BBD would be to create a campaign narrative that was thought-provoking enough to break through barriers of ‘it will never happen to me’, whilst not demonising the water and essentially the sport these people love.

The narrative would also have to work hard to not only change behaviours but encourage anglers to wear a lifejacket and carry a means for help (as neither on their own is enough to sufficiently safe.)

Expect the unexpected

The BBD team created a story around the campaign idea of ‘Expect the unexpected. Live to Tell the Tale’. Rather than shocking or frightening anglers, the conversations we were to have would take a humanising approach and play to the boasting aspects of a fisherman (‘you should have seen the size of it’).

In this case, that meant storytelling through a succinct timeline to illustrate the typical progression of a day’s fishing – embracing all the charm and excitement anglers feel around their sport, but showing how quickly the power of the water can change the tale.



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