Pimp My Carroça is a Brazil-based charitable organisation founded in 2007 by Mundano, a graffiti artist from São Paulo. Its objective is to improve the working conditions, roadside visibility, remuneration, and standing in society of catadores (waste collectors). Catadores work long hours with a type of wheeled-kart called a carroça, picking up and transporting street trash to the appropriate recycling centres. Without them the country would barely recycle at all.
Pimp My Carroça developed a mobile application called Cataki, aimed at providing catadores a safer way to work and opportunity to earn more money. Our primary objective then was to help people understand how the app makes recycling easier. and promote its usage to a wider public. The client stressed they were keen to appear in more prominent media, secure partnerships with renowned blue-chip companies, and increase the number of volunteers for their events. Our target audience was extremely broad: everyone who can recycle, be it consumers, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and small business owners. Secondarily, we wanted to promote the app among those who benefit most from it: the catadores.
The fact recycling is often linked to climate change — a controversial subject under Brazil’s current government — means it can be a tricky subject to pitch. Many media would express early interest, but mainly in the lives of the catadores. Aside from the fact many collectors are illiterate, homeless, and hard to contact, we wanted to keep the focus on the app. According to a study, Cataki increases the income of catadores by between 47-69 percent, so we needed to ensure this remain the crux of the campaign.
Pimp My Carroça also does not have a specific spokesperson. Each subject is deliberately handled by a different staff member because Mundano wants everyone to feel involved. This created problems when it came to pitching interviews as we never knew who was going to speak and whether they had media training.
Planning and Preparation:
Sherlock started working pro-bono with Pimp My Carroça in August 2019. In order for us to increase awareness of catadores and their importance to society, it was essential for us to better understand the daily challenges they face. Knowledge such as the fact a waste collector can walk more than 10km each day and his carroça can weigh more than 500kg, enabled us to better promote both Pimp and the app.
After meeting the collectors, we met with personnel from the charity to better understand their needs and suggested we drive home the fact Cataki is not a free service, but rather a source of employment for the catadores.
With such a broad target audience, we decided to focus on broadcast coverage and in particular radio as it has traditionally proven the most effective way to reach the four corners of Brazil. We also knew from our research that catadores listen to community radio while working, so we had more chance of reaching them this way. We also prepared a list of influencers that focus on sustainability and social causes and follow Pimp My Carroça on social media.
Recognising much of the target audience is oblivious to how waste disposal works and the role of catadores, we wanted to first educate. Then, given they would be hearing about Cataki for the first time, we wanted to help them understand how it could benefit them. Armed with facts such as 90 percent of all Brazil’s recycling is done by catadores would enable us to educate our audience while also increasing the waste collectors’ status and self-esteem.
Regarding the application itself, we researched similar apps and prepared some suggestions in terms of how the client could improve the Cataki interface and content, while also ensuring the catadores remain priority. We suggested a focus group with users to see where the app succeeds and struggles.
Two months after we started working together, the client told us they would be holding a public event to spray-paint and fix faults in 30 carts, as well as provide catadores with health checks and a hot meal. Sherlock also connected with a dentistry college, which agreed to send a team to help perform free dental checks.
We contacted key journalists to introduce the client and by the time we sent the event announcement press release, most target media knew Pimp My Carroça and how they could work with it to create good copy. This was key to us placing the client in various media outlets.
Closer to the event, we also organised for a catador and a spokesperson to be interviewed by Radio Web, a news agency that enabled our radio spot to appear on more than 230 channels, including Jovem Pan and Metropolitana. While it appeared on some of the most-listened radio stations in Brazil, it also appeared on the majority of community-focused stations, meaning the catadores were well-informed.
As well as the event, we also helped the client with new ideas for their social media profiles, teaching them how to engage users better. Meanwhile, with some catadores living on the streets, we developed a plan to install solar plates on the carroças enabling the waste collectors to charge their phones.
Our idea to increase the visibility of waste collectors in the community also led us to explore ways to celebrate the different demographics of catadores. For example, before International Women’s Day, we approached the client with an idea to create an open event for female waste collectors. It was a great success, with dozens of women meeting in a local park to partake in female discussions and have their karts redecorated. Claudia, one of the biggest female-focused magazines in the country, covered the event.
Ahead of carnival, we launched a campaign to highlight that Carnival generates more garbage than any other event in the country and that it is catadores who do all the recycling. The visibility of the project led to São Paulo City Council commissioning catadores as part of the official Carnival clean-up team. More than 700 waste collectors helped clean the streets during the annual event. With the help of a list of targeted influencers, we helped raise awareness.
The campaign was Pimp’s first official contact with influencers and resulted in four partnerships, with a combined total of more than five million followers. During the COVID-19 pandemic period, we were asked by the client to approach influencers again regarding a crowdfunding campaign for the catadores. Working with 15 influencers, we generated more than 80 posts and reached more than 12 million followers. We also saw other influencers and celebrities beyond those contacted promote the campaign.
From August 2019 until January 2020, more than 53,000 users downloaded Cataki app. Since April 2017, it has a total of 200K downloads meaning our work, in six months, was directly responsible for around 25 percent of all downloads. In that same time, we were able to substantially increase awareness of the client and Cataki, generating 344 pieces of coverage and reaching a combined 400 million online readers and an estimated 578,000 coverage views.
Stories regarding Pimp My Carroça and Cataki were shared more than 3,000 times on social media and opportunities for what now amounts to more than 3,000 registered catadores rose considerably. Catadores and Pimp My Carroça spokespeople appeared on the BBC three times, including on Radio London and the BBC World website, Jornal da Band (a prime-time newscast on one of Brazil’s main TV channels), Mídia Ninja (a well-known website with a lot of engagement with young adults on social media), and Razões para Acreditar (a website that addresses social and humanitarian stories).
Such was the rise in interest, the client signed partnerships with Nestle, Coca-Cola, Guaraná Antarctica, and Klabin. It also experienced its highest turnout to one of its events and was forced to stop accepting volunteers.
Our collaboration with influencers for the Covid-19 auction also proved more successful than we could have imagined. Our press release prompted coverage in various Tier One media, including BBC Brasil, who spoke with Pimp and some catadores to produce a huge story that included a live link to the auction website. In less than 24 hours, the donations spiked more than 30,000 reais (£4,500).
We also contacted the likes of TV Cultura, Catraca Livre, Yahoo, Brasil de Fato, and Deutsche Welle. This helped increase the number of donations further, with TV Cultura’s feature producing another spike of 10K reais (£1,500). We later got some quotes from artists that donated to the auction and sent out a press release that resulted in a prominent article in Estado de S. Paulo, one of Brazil’s biggest-selling newspapers.
In April 2020, we also started working with Pimp My Carroza in Colombia and with the help of Sherlock’s satellite office in Bogota, generated eight pieces of coverage there, including in important media such as Semana, the most important opinion magazine and the main TV news show, Noticias Caracol.