Ogilvy Paris and SNCF prove that behavioural science and creativity can influence behaviour and improve user experience

In July, the SNCF Nudge Unit turned to the strategic and creative minds of Ogilvy Paris (specifically the agency‘s Consulting practice of Behavioral Science), accompanied by social psychology researcher Nicolas Fieulaine of NF Etudes to marry behavioural sciences and creativity to find effective solutions to discourage public urination.

After several months of observation, reflection and prototyping, and after scientifically demonstrating positive results, the intervention called “Stade des Mureaux” is now ready to be deployed in stations across France.

The Stade des Mureaux is an athletics track outside the “La Gare des Mureaux” station which draws on the French love and respect for all kinds of sports, with murals designed to give the feel of a sports stadium outside the station, complete with life-like spectators. The theme was continued inside with active life-size athletes. An optical treatment of large round bubbles was used to disguise the corners that were being used for urination.

BeforeCornerBubble Sticker Ogilvy Paris
After1 Ogilvy Paris

“When we do not give a particular purpose to a place, we let people decide for themselves how to use it—for example to make it a place to relieve themselves. In this instance, some walls became “accepted” urinals and it becomes difficult or impossible to change the behaviour unless we give a new role to the place in question.

“In our case, a children’s play area is a very simple way to say to the potential offenders, ‘no, this corner of the wall is not a place to urinate’. This is called a framing effect in behavioural sciences,” explained Nicolas Fieulaine, Researcher in Social Psychology of NF Etudes.

The Stade des Mureaux showed an 88 percent reduction of public urination over a period of four weeks and a total reduction on the walls outside of the station. The only residual acts took place between 1 am and 6 am, at times when the station was empty, in rare instances.

“The Stade des Mureaux is much more than just an effective nudge. For when behavioural science meets creativity, nudges do not just have the utility of changing behaviour. They tell stories, they bring life and cheerfulness and they improve the user experience. And this is obviously a key collateral effect for SNCF,” concluded Benoit DeFleurian, Principal & Head of Behavioural Science Practice at Ogilvy Paris.

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