The Challenge

Americans accumulate as much as 80 million gallons of leftover house paint each year. Many consumers don’t know how to dispose of it properly, so the leftover paint is either stored for an indefinite amount of time or, worse, disposed of in an improper manner. PaintCare, a non-profit paint stewardship organization led by paint manufacturers, retained Civilian to develop and implement a multi-state traditional and digital media campaign in English and Spanish to increase awareness and action around proper disposal of unwanted, leftover paint. Drive awareness of their paint recycling program, educate consumers on properly purchasing and using up unwanted, leftover paint, and increase paint recycling in nine states plus Washington, D.C.

Our Approach

At the onset of our relationship, Civilian recommended that PaintCare position paint recycling not as an environmental obligation, but as a new, trending social norm. Our three key messages are to:

– Buy the right amount of paint (the PaintCare website helps people estimate how much they will need)

– Use it up (we hold social media contests and share how-to topics on using up leftover paint)

– Properly dispose of any paint that is leftover (we use local print ads and radio to promote local drop-off events)

We use audience research and segmentation tools to precisely target individuals and businesses who have recently purchased paint or will be purchasing it in the future. This includes adults who are in the market for paint or who may have old paint in their homes, businesses that deal with large volumes of paint, DIY types, movers, and real estate professionals. We conducted a photoshoot to create a flexible library of images and then created a clean, approachable look using vivid paint colors and clear calls to action that are easily translated into Spanish.

The Results

Since the campaign launch, more than 60 million gallons of paint, stain, and varnish have been properly disposed of in eight states and Washington, D.C. Our earned media campaigns have generated 130+ media mentions reaching more than 100 million unique visitors each year, with an advertising value equivalency of more than $4 million. These campaigns—combined with PaintCare’s on-the-ground efforts and Civilian’s promotion of more than 250 individual drop-off events—have resulted in a significant increase in the amount of leftover paint recycled.


  • Social
  • Branding
  • Media
  • Out-of-Home
  • Broadcast
  • Digital
  • Events
Our Work