The value-action gap within sustainable efforts continues to exist today because the majority of sustainable initiatives are invested in “changing people’s minds instead of facilitating the desired behaviors,” says Mike Walker. The question is, how on earth do you change their behaviors? The answer seems to lie within creative sustainable marketing campaigns that elicit people to action; however, there has been a misunderstanding in the past and present of how to effectively achieve this.
You Catch More Bees with Honey
Ultimately the old adage is true – you catch more bees with honey. Many sustainable messages so far have been an overload of scientifically relevant information on climate change and sustainability indexes, cloaked in a message of guilt and responsibility. For example, the viral campaign Dear Future Generations: Sorry or the intriguing Deforested Desktop app., which although good at raising awareness and getting to the heart of a very serious issue, are largely gloom and guilt-oriented. The effect is that we know that we should do something and feel badly, but are quickly overwhelmed and these negative feelings of guilt become attached to the campaign.
So it’s not like the information isn’t out there for consumers to engage with. Websites like Urban Hub publish articles on a regular basis about reinventing urban spaces to be smart, green, and sustainable, along with mobile, and it is just one drop in a bucket of hundreds that are offering both information and options to do things better. The problem isn’t in a lack of information, then, but in delivering that information in faulty packaging. In order to bridge this gap, sustainability marketing needs to somehow find a way to merge all of this research, insight, and alternative action proposals, with a tangible personal value element for consumers. A more immediate reward seems to be the answer for spurring immediate action.
Sustainable Campaigns with Added Value
1) Chipotle Food with Integrity Campaign
In this short video clip, The Scarecrow, Chipotle and campaign partner Moonbot Studios, bring some of the main issues within industrial food production to the forefront to promote consumer awareness. The scarecrow campaign includes video and game for download, and presents a platform offering further information on how to take action. This campaign has immense success to be successful because it offers consumers value in the way of entertainment, while also getting a sustainable message across. Having reached 6.5 million YouTube views in only two weeks after its premier (now past 15 million), and with 500,000 game downloads within only 6 weeks of launch (Entrepreneur), it seems the message is indeed being eaten up, along with a fair amount of Chipotle burritos no doubt.
2) Greenpeace #LEGOBlockShell Campaign
Going the same route of delivering a message and offering the value of entertainment is Greenpeace’s #LEGOBlockShell Campaign which depicts an elaborate LEGO world that gets flooded by oil, burying crying LEGO people and animals under the dooming fluid. The campaign is meant to raise awareness of the partnership between Shell and LEGO and to elicit signatures on a petition to break this partnership. Despite the dark tone, with over 7 billion views on YouTube to date (the most viewed Greenpeace campaign in history) and an announcement in 2014 that LEGO would not be renewing its contract with Shell, the success of this campaign is unprecedented in sustainable marketing campaigns.
3) Oxfam Behind the Brands Campaign
The Oxfam Behind the Brands campaign has less entertainment appeal, but it engages consumers by putting the power in their hands. The campaign site presents information based on extensive research of how the major food companies operate. It illuminates company strengths and weaknesses along their production and supply chain, and makes sustainability scores publically available. It also gives an option to take action and be involved in communicating a need for change to these ‘Big 10’ companies. After a few months of the campaign running, both Kellogg and General Mills (apparently the worst offenders) announced changes to their production process and commitments to sustainability. It seems the people’s voices were heard and change is underway. This campaign is engaging because people can watch the sustainability score change and see the actual effect of all of the individuals banning together in this effort. It gets them actively involved and they are rewarded in the short-term with seeing actual progress.