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Green Messaging with a Smile

One of the big challenges around green messaging and behavioral change is being able to engage people without preaching, or worse, chastising. There are many reports which suggest that people are turned off by ‘green’ messaging, not least this one from greenbiz.com that puts forth the notion that people are motivated to change not by working to prevent something that may happen in the future, but by what will benefit them personally today.

But in the case of the drought in California, where pictures of its impact fill our papers everyday, and prices in the grocery store hit our pockets, the evidence, and therefore the need to act differently, is impossible to ignore. Yet this still doesn’t necessarily lead everyone to change their ways.

There have been public service initiatives whereby people are encouraged to report incidences of water wastage – e.g. a neighbor over-using their sprinkler, and the hiring of so-called ‘water cops’ to reach out to these ‘offenders’ and encourage them to stop. These schemes were devised after public service educational messaging failed to have the desired impact and certainly speak to the gravity of the situation.

So it’s been interesting and entertaining to see about town on billboards and buses the very different approach the San Francisco PUC has taken with its messaging. For example, the ad to encourage people to take shorter showers leads with the line “Make it a Quickie.” To motivate people to get their old toilets placed for free, the line reads “Get paid for doing it.” Only in San Francisco, you might say, with its sometimes nod and a wink outlook on life but the wording has certainly sparked conversations. Let’s hope it succeeds.

And it’s not just San Francisco which is injecting some humor into water shortage messaging. Denver has the “Don’t be that Guy” campaign, with a series of tongue-in-cheek but highly effective images of various stereotypes with messaging such as “Don’t Be That Guy. Don’t water the sidewalk.” I love this campaign because firstly no-one ever wants to be “that guy” but it’s also a really clever way of unifying people in a common cause without bashing them over the head.

Ultimately, the most effective way to engage with your audience and to motivate action is to look to the truths in the nuances of the situation. That’s why at ARTEMIA our approach to any campaign launch begins with intensive research to immerse ourselves in the market sector from client, customer and competitor perspectives to unearth the unique motivators and create messaging that drives change. If you’d like to hear our ideas for your business, as ever, please get in touch.

Until next time!

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