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.
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