Tease & reveal grime campaign educates young Londoners on Tideway’s Super Sewer

The Challenge

London relies on a 150-year-old sewer system built for a population less than half its current size. The system regularly overflows, and millions of tonnes of sewage spills into the Thames each year. Which is where Tideway comes in – the super sewer is being built to clean up the river for the good of the city, its wildlife and residents.

Whilst the project has generated significant coverage in traditional news and engineering slots, less than a quarter of London’s 18-35 are aware of the project.

Red was tasked to find ways to creatively engage younger Londoners in the work Tideway is doing.

Creative Approach

Tideway have tunnelled 12.5km of the 25km total length, from Fulham through to Blackfriars and were about to breakthrough into Bermondsey before setting off towards East London.

This provided a natural news opportunity for Tideway – but how could we interest young Londoners in a tunnelling breakthrough when most simply aren’t interested in engineering projects?

We asked ourselves what other ‘breakthroughs’ might be naturally interesting to them? Which got us thinking about breakthrough artists… could we use a clever play on words and tap into young Londoners’ passion for urban music to land our message?


We created the world’s first Instagram account for Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) - in the guise of a new breakthrough artists @hypeTBM. This formed part of a ‘tease and reveal’ campaign involving Professor Green AKA Stephen Manderson, Rinse FM grime artists and presenters. 

Video content and an Instagram mantle @hypeTBM created social intrigue and buzz across the music community about who these two ‘breakthrough artists’ might be. After two weeks it was revealed that the @hypeTBM duo were in fact two giant TBMs leading the Tideway Super Sewer eastwards.

Professor Green took a virtual tour underground, to meet with the TBMs and Tideway’s construction crew to see the enormous scale of the project.

The @hypeTBM duo consists of Ursula and Selina, named after inspirational women in London’s history. These are just two of the six TBMs involved in the construction of Tideway’s 25km super sewer under the Thames. Selina TBM is named after Dr Selina Fox, who founded the Bermondsey Medical Mission in 1904, while Ursula is named after Dr Audrey 'Ursula' Smith, a British cryobiologist who discovered the use of glycerol to protect human red blood cells during freezing.

The campaign was supported by an influencer programme, content creation to feed the @hypetbm channel and editorial outreach. 

4 million + reach
Campaign content reach on social media
11% increase
Instagram followers
Shift towards younger audience
Coverage in Metro, The Independent as well as local London press
National coverage

“Less than a quarter of London’s 18-35 year olds are aware of the super sewer. Whilst the project has previously had editorial coverage on traditional news outlets, we needed a different tack to reach young Londoners who we know largely do not consume this media. Social was the obvious route to go, but in alignment with a key youth passion point of music. Giving our Tunnel Boring Machines a musical moniker was great fun, it allowed us creativity and freedom to play with our messaging, away from our brand channels. We chose our talent carefully to ensure they shared our environmental values and aims. We’ve had a fantastic reaction so far and received a noticeable impact in delivering on our campaign goals.”

Natalie Wheble, Head of Media Relations


Tease & reveal grime campaign educates young Londoners on Tideway’s Super Sewer

We invited Professor Green to welcome the #supersewer to East London and explain the environmental benefits of Tideway London's tunnel. Our campaign included the first ever Instagram account for a Tunnel Boring Machine - the latest ‘breakthrough’ artist to hit east London!

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