cybertoothtiger: (Default)
[personal profile] cybertoothtiger
Waterwords that Work had a link to these award-winning environmental ads today. 

At first glance, these look like really cool, creative ads. So they must be effective, right? Well, as Erik points out, actually no. 

They would never try to shock people into buying Coke, except perhaps in a funny way. (“These are your tastebuds without Coke” maybe?) Walmart doesn’t show pictures of people unhappily shopping at Macy’s, it shows people getting great deals at Walmart. Kiefer does not voice ads that say "The amazing thing about the Ford Motor Company is that it is still alive."

And yet so many social marketing campaigns show us only the problem or what not to do, thinking they can shock us into action. 

Sadly, this approach does not work. People naturally want to be on the winning team. They want to feel that change is not only possible, but that whatever they do personally will have a meaningful impact on solving the problem. Shocking them with the enormity of the problem without giving some sort of concrete action they can take to be part of the solution leads to despair, not involvement. 

If you are ever the client for a non-profit ad campaign, ask the agency if they would use the same technique to sell a product. If the answer is no, ask for better. Yes, they’re doing it for free, but shouldn’t that mean they actually want to make a difference?

More relevant to my flist, if you are ever the designer for an environmental campaign, try to keep in mind that what you are selling is action, not 'awareness.' Awareness by itself never saved a single tree. Whether it's recycling, reducing energy use, choosing sustainable forest products, whatever, you want people to do something, and you want to make the action look really sexy. The only one of the 'award winning' ads that includes an action is the orangutan, which is pretty good:

Now, compare those images to this one from the San Diego Zoo:

It deals with a significant problem, but it gives you something you can do, and it has eyes looking right at you, making you more likely to do it because you're being watched. No despair, just action. Now that's an effective ad.

Date: 2010-04-07 11:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Awareness by itself never saved a single tree.

You get a word Sunday with extra hot fudge Word sauce. We are all perfectly "Aware" of Cancer.

I hate ads that try to appeal to our sense of guilt. You can show me all the bald kids with cancer in the world and I'll just go: Ewe, those sick kids are being exploited! Gross! The only concrete action we can take is to donate money, a large percentage of which pays for more ads or other admin costs rather than all this mysterious research our donation is suppose to buy.

A lot of disease-oriented ads go "Look how hopeless and pathetic these sick people are!" It's also kind of exploitative and voyeuristic, and not in a good way.

Ack. I'm ranting.

Even Kiefer kouldn't get me to buy a Ford.
Edited Date: 2010-04-07 11:58 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-04-08 12:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Rant away, m'dear. Your reaction illustrates my point, exactly: guilt or shock ads do not motivate. Even if you already have a strong relationship with the cause. In fact, they can be quite alienating.

And you raise another good point, which is that the same principle applies to any 'cause' marketing. (Which used to be called Social Marketing, but that term has been usurped by social media, so I'm not sure what we're calling it now.)

(Your comment also reminds me of the hilarious "Littlest Cancer Patient" discussion on TV tropes.)

Date: 2010-04-08 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OMG. Great site! Sadly, the LCP in ads are real sick kids, not actors playing real sick kids. My sense of morality is such that I'm more okay with the later. I am so weird.

*Uses naked!Jack icon as an example of the kind of sick!Person exploitation I LIKE to see*

Date: 2010-04-08 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I totally agree. Real sick kids feels exploitative. The LCP can be unintentionally amusing.

Mmmmmm.... Jack.....

Date: 2010-04-08 01:12 am (UTC)
ext_407935: (EmpatheticN)
From: [identity profile]
I kind of love you right now (What, as opposed to other times? Hee!), because you are so unbelievably on target here. Really, I have nothing more coherent to add to that, so I will shut up.

Date: 2010-04-08 02:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hee. Well, you know, it's what I do. I'm a bit obsessed about it. You should have seen Noel and the kids rolling their eyes at me taking pictures of signs at the Zoo.

Erik's blog is made of awesome.

Date: 2010-04-08 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I completely agree with you. Using ads to make us feel guilty doesn't help; it just makes us feel worse about the problem, as well as making us feel like there's nothing we can do to fix it (other than donating money, like [ profile] marinw said- but that's still not the same as having us take an active role in helping to solve the problem) The ad from the zoo is much better- it still draws attention to the issue, while also enforcing the idea that we actually can do something to contribute.

Date: 2010-04-08 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The one about the bottles in the ocean was particularly brutal for me. It made the problem seem so big that all I felt was that it is too late; there is nothing I can do about something that bad.

The Zoo ad could be improved by including an image of coffee. The ad itself is so far away from any decision-making point about purchasing coffee that including an image could function as a mnemonic.

Date: 2010-04-08 01:05 pm (UTC)
ext_450096: (Jack's beanstalk)
From: [identity profile]
This is awesome! Also something I never thought about in terms of environmental advertising. The idea of promoting action instead of awareness. Right on the money. So true.

Thanks for sharing.

Date: 2010-04-08 03:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It applies to other kinds of ads, too. The polar bear ad wouldn't be a good ad for human homelessness either -- we all walk by real, live people like that often enough that pictures of them won't help make us more 'aware.' The problem is we don't know what to do.

Erik compares small actions to the gateway drug of environmentalism. People do one small thing and find out that it feels good. More important, it makes them see themselves as the kind of people who do things for the environment, which makes them more likely to say yes to the next ask. "Hmmm, I recycled that cup, maybe I should sign this petition about the landfill, too."

The small actions on their own will not always be enough, but they help create a mindset that will support the bigger actions such as legislation.


cybertoothtiger: (Default)

April 2010

456 78910
25262728 2930 

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 10:56 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios