Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

What the f…? This is the third time I see an ad for the new 2009 Silverado Chevy Truck. Not in a car magazine. Not in People magazine. Not on TV. No, I saw it in three very respected green sites, out of all places.

This brings up an issue that’s faced by green bloggers all the time. If you are going to take advertising, how can you make sure that the ads do not go counter to your message? Green certified ad networks are still few and far between, and sometimes have requirements, like Natural Path Media, that preclude the smaller blogs. Of course, there is always the option of handling one’s own ads. But, who has that kind of time?

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I can’t quite remember what the ad was about – but I was struck by the images, and mostly what I felt watching. The outdoors, a person reaching out for a fruit, in a tree. My reaction was, sweet! . . . and boredom. It failed to grab me. I stopped to think, and wondered, is that how I feel, genuinely, with nature imbued narrative, usually? And my response was, yes . . . and maybe others are too?

Contrast this with the excitement from my friend, after he had just come from watching the Waste=Food documentary:

When I heard him talk about the Chinese story, and also Nike’s revolutionary process for making eco-friendly shoes, I wanted to learn more.

In the search for a more sustainable world, we humans may be more impressed by stories of  our own ingeniosity, than nature’s goodness. Technology, creativity, and news seem like a potent recipe for effective green communication, worth using over, and over again. Not so, bucolic scenes, and the romanticization of our natural world.

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I am learning lots from email exchanges amongst our green mom bloggers’ group. This week, the question was raised of how to cast the greening of Thanksgiving under a fresh new way? I latched on to the ‘fresh’ part of the question and voiced that we were past the “10 Tips to a Greener Thanksgiving”. One of the moms disagreed. 

I agree that it’s boring, but I think people still need to hear the basics sometimes.  Repetition might be the only way to help people realize they are capable of making small changes.  It may take years of hearing this stuff for my husband’s family to realize that buying “local” doesn’t mean running out to the nearest Harris Teeter for their prepared turkey and fixings all packaged up in nice little plastic containers!!!

Our exchange highlights a much bigger issue. Three years since the release of “An Inconvenient Truth”, what are the most effective strategies to spread the green message? As green communicators, are we to continue as usual, with our various how-to bits, or are we to adopt radically different approaches?

The advertising people tell us we are to pay attention to the following factors for effective communication:

  1. First is recall, or the ability for people to remember the message
  2. Second is persuasion, or the effectiveness of the message in persuading people to change their behaviors
  3. Third is repetition, the number of time a message is impressed upon people’s minds; we know repetition contributes to recall
At stake in our green discussion, is the issue of persuasion. If we are going to drill a green message into the reluctant citizen’s mind, what should it be? Realizing that the same citizen is currently up to here with worries about his or her financial future. This is why I no longer advocate green admonitions. The way to go in my book, is through the connection with economic concerns. In other words, do not talk green. Instead, explore ways to save, and to survive in our dicey economy.

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In my mailbox, this morning, news from my friend Luc Hardy, on his latest expedition in the Artic:

An international coalition of children exploring the high Arctic witnessed firsthand the latest dramatic development of climate change on Tuesday, July 22 as a huge chunk of ice was observed drifting off the Ward Hunt Island main ice shelf, forming two ice islands totaling 20 square kilometers. The children, assembled as The Young Ambassadors of the Arctic, are part of the Global Green USA and Green Cross Pax Arctica ’08 expedition.

I have followed from a distance, all the media reports on the Arctic front. My friend’s mail brings that reality closer to me, somehow. Climate change is no longer some abstract, future notion. It is happening NOW, and I feel moved. Turning global warming into  a personally relevant issue continues to be a challenge.

This morning’s experience with Luc’s email, confirms the power of word of mouth in persuading people:

Something to consider for the “we” and “Together” campaigns . . .

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First day of Not So Green Exposure Project. Sunday. 9 days before Christmas. I am feeling pressure from all the stores to buy lots of stuff, in a hurry. When I opened the San Francisco Chronicle this morning, I found 25 inserts from various advertisers:

9 Days Before Christmas, and I Am Feeling the Pressure

Target: Expect More – Pay Less’. Holiday Hours: Open Sunday through Saturday 8am to 11pm’. Sony: What to Give. What to Get’. Cost Plus World Market: ‘Wondrous Gifts. Wow Prices’. Dell: ‘Wish for right now. Ask for brilliance. Wish for smiles. Ask a knockout. Wish for safekeeping. Wish for more’. Ritz & Wolf Camera. SALE. FREE’. Radio Shack. Last-minute deals worth the wait‘. Best Buy: ‘WOW’. Macy’s: 9 Shopping Days to Go’. Circuit City: Dash through your list’. JC Penney: ‘Super Hot Buys. 3 Days Only, Sunday-Tuesday, December 16-18’. Mattress Discounters: Last Chance to Save on Tempur-Pedic Mattresses’. Nikon: ‘Incredible Holiday Prices’. T-Mobile: The Exclusive Holiday Collection’. Bed Bath & Beyond: 20% off any one of our hundreds of thousands of items’. Sports Authority: ‘Save up to 40% on outerwear’. Big 5 Sporting Goods: ‘Gigantic Holiday Coupon Sale’. Sears: Entire Stock on Sale’. Mervyns: ‘Christmas Countdown Sale. Only 9 Shopping Days Left. Must-have Gifts, Can’t Miss Prices’. Crescent Jewelers: ’12 Months Interest Free. No Down Payment’. K Mart: ‘Okay, Let’s Wrap It up! Sunday 12/16 – Sunday 12/23. Monday 12/24 6am-10pm’. Magnolia Audio & Video: ‘Sights and Sounds For the Holidays. All on sale’. Pepboys Auto: ‘Holiday Gift Guide From the Boys’. Michaels: ‘Great Gift Sale. Thousands of Creative Choices’. Staples: ‘That Holiday Was Easy’. Walgreens: ‘Open’ til Midnight Thru Dec. 23′.

25 voices shouting in unison, and leaving me with a bunch of impressions, all jumbled up in my brain.

I have to go shopping for presents, I know, this is what one does for Christmas, right? Not a single mention of global warming and going green. It doesn’t fit in the whole picture. No, let us concentrate instead on the task at hand. It’s a job, and everyone is out there to help me get it done well, and fast. The mall has turned into Ali Baba’s cavern, filled up with goodies, especially for the occasion. Plus all the stuff is so cheap, and the stores are open 24/7, I have no excuses. I just have to hurry, there is no time to think too much, the good deals are in limited supply, and only for so long. If I am smart, I can even ‘save’ money, with all the sales, and awesome discounts. And for big ticket items, I don’t have to pay right away, payments can be deferred. Nothing is spared to maximize my fun of getting as much stuff as I feel like. Under the guise of getting presents, I can satisfy my urge to shop. Guilt free. It’s for others, it’s mandatory. All for a good cause, the creation of one big happy family moment. Christmas morning, unwrapping presents like mad, by the tree. Giving my love ones and receiving from them, stuff. The more, the better.

In the past I would have gone along with the voices, and seized the opportunity. This year, I am resisting it. No move yet, towards the mall. No gifts list. Christmas has become a problem. How to satisfy the children’s expectations, without compromising my growing green core? I am sick and tired of shopping. At the same time, I still love the ritual of wrapping gifts, and placing them under the tree. The more, the better. Concrete manifestations of love, displayed for all to see.

To help Green Girl Wannabes like me, there are plenty of green experts, with lots of good advice on how to green my Christmas. I will probably end up listening to them, and walk the path of compromise, buying still, only greener presents.

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Just went on Technorati, to check on my blog. The first thing I see, is this head banner from Discover Card, flashing, ‘More is Better‘. I will leave it at that . . .

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The ‘Gift’

Just received in the mail: ‘Lancome. Play Gift. Choose Your Color Collection. Yours with Any $35.00 Lancome Purchase. Offer good 10/10 to 10/28, 2007 while supplies last. One gift per client, please.’ In the ‘Gift’: two red fake leather toiletry pouches, mascara, lipstick, eye shadows, two tubes of facial cream.

Immediate thoughts: I could get the stuff for free, I could probably come up with $35.00 worth of cosmetics to buy. Nah . . .

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The power of communicating on an emotional level

Read in the New York Times Business section today: ‘In campaigns from the longtime previous agency . . . the brand was peddled on “functional benefits”. . . “But we’d hit that point where consumers say: ‘I know that. What else?’ ” . . . “The conversation needs to happen on an emotional level because that’s where the power of a brand comes in. We found ourselves in need of strategy change and creative change.” ‘

The ‘Green’ Brand

The comments belong to an article on ‘The Pursuit of Happiness in a Grilled Cheese Sandwich’, about Kraft Foods’ efforts to revamp their Kraft Singles sliced cheese. Cost of the campaign: $40 million a year. Eighteen years ago, I was the VP at the JWT agency in charge of the advertising for Kraft Singles. . . Now if only, as much money and creative juices were spent of the peddling of the Green Earth solution! Green is the brand. Consumers say the same thing about Green as about Kraft Singles. They know what they should be doing, pretty much. So what?

Getting emotional about ‘Green’

The conversation needs to happen on an emotional level, because that’s where the power of a brand comes in.” Right on. People have lots of feelings about the Green brand. Fear, frustration, guilt, powerlessness, shame, curiosity, concern . . . They have even more feelings about life in general, which is the real context for the Green brand. Happiness, joy, courage, the need to belong and to be recognized, the need to be understood,. . . Hidden in all these feelings, is a powerful message, yet to be uncovered.

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