Everyone is subjected every day to advertising campaigns designed to make the products being hyped so familiar they become ingrained into people’s thoughts and actions. I’m sure you recognize the product when you hear the words, “Great Taste, Less Filling” or recognize insurance is being sold the second you see Progressive’s Flo or the GEICO Gecko.

Though you may not realize the not for profit group called Wildlife Forever is the “parent,” I’m sure you have seen and hopefully understand the concept being sold when you hear the words, “Clean, Drain, Dry. Wildlife Forever just released the advertising statistics for last year’s “Clean Drain Dry Initiative.” Wildlife Forever and their coalition of partners which includes dozens of local, state and national partners made 102 million targeted impressions in 2019.

So, why do impressions matter? If you’re a biologist, an impression could be compared to an introduction of an invasive species into a new environment. The increased frequency with which a boater, homeowner or hiker introduces a foreign species, the greater chance for it to spread or become established. If only one male and one female Asian Carp get into the Great Lakes, the chances for them to find each other, successfully spawn and end up disrupting the whole ecology of the lakes is remote. But if 100 carp get in, or a thousand, or 10 thousand, each increase in number makes it more likely the carp will become established.

That’s why targeted impressions matter. It’s why beer and soft drinks are advertised during the Superbowl and cleaning products and arthritis medicine are advertised on The Price is Right. The right message needs to be seen by the right people.

The Clean Drain Dry Initiative, emphasizing prevention and public outreach, is similar in that it disseminates Clean Drain Dry messages at a high frequency in targeted environments. Maximizing exposure to the right people and at the right places, increases substantially the likelihood that Clean Drain Dry behaviors will be adopted.

Just in case the words “Clean Drain Dry” are unfamiliar to you, it’s an effort to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. As invasive mussels, Eurasian milfoil and other non-native species became established in the Great Lakes or other lakes, it was soon recognized they could be spread by fishermen and other boaters to unaffected areas or lakes in bilgewater, livewells, minnow buckets or in the case of milfoil, just by scraps of the weed clinging to boat trailers. That being the case, the best defense would be for every boater who regularly, or even occasionally, moves from one lake to the next to make sure their boat and trailer are clean, with no weeds or other debris in or on the boat or evident on the boat’s trailer. The drain plug should be pulled as soon as the boat is trailered and pulled from the lake to make sure any water in the bilge drains out. Then open the hatches and access panels as best you can to let air circulate and allow the bilge and bait tanks and livewells to dry out completely — Clean, Drain Dry.

Since its inception in 2006, Wildlife Forever has consistently used new and innovative strategies to generate over 2 Billion Impressions with outdoor recreation users. In addition, Wildlife Forever and our partners have made cost-effective investments into nationally-approved best management practices for invasive species prevention.

Through all of this the group has remained laser focused on the target audiences with the greatest impact on invasive species, thus maximizing the success of the Clean Drain Dry program. In 2020 Wildlife Forever will continue to introduce new tools to help managers and communities implement Clean Drain Dry Initiative. Working with coalition partners, new resources are developing to better coordinate the data, tools and techniques for invasive species prevention and management. An action plan has been formallized with the Department of Interior to streamline and improve federal coordination and to strengthen implementation of the Clean Drain Dry Initiative message and outreach services.

The Clean Drain Dry Initiative uses the science of marketing to ensure a consistent message and a clear, positive brand image. Targeting key user groups such as lakeshore property owners, the campaign eliminates redundancy and focuses on maximizing public awareness and engagement.

Communicating prevention behaviors in multiple ways and a variety of focused locations is critically important. They want the message, Clean Drain Dry, to be as familiar as the slogans Pepsi, Nike and other major corporations use to ensure their products are recognized. Expect to see ready-made content and branded designs displayed in ice machines, in marina windows, at bait shops and other areas fishermen and boaters will see them.

Digital ads provide an efficient way to directly deliver information to targetted audiences. Social media is the “new normal” for communication, engaging with new audiences and expanding invasive species outreach with digital advertising.

The CDDI is just one of many ways Wildlife Forever is promoting and conserving America’s fish and wildlife heritage. The best way to support it is to become a member. There are many levels starting at only $20. Check them out at www.wildlifeforever.org.