Environmentalists need to follow brands’ lead and get ‘behaviour placement’ on screens

Monday, February 28th, 2011 | News, Our Philosophy | 1 Comment

people watching tvProduct placement hits UK TV screens today following a relaxation of the rules on television advertising. The first product to be placed will be a Nescafe coffee machine on the ITV show This Morning.

Product placement is an attractive proposition for brands because it drives people’s behaviour by normalising those actions (or products) in the eyes of the viewer.

Environmentalists need to take a similar approach in the drive to change people’s behaviour in order to prevent climate change. If we see our favourite characters in Coronation Street recycling, or see Brad Pitt riding a bike everywhere in a film, or see Simon Cowell in his mansion with solar panels in the background, we are much more likely to consider that behaviour aspirational and desirable. This type of campaigning is therefore more effective at changing behaviour than, for example, taking out posters on buses telling people how much carbon they can save by ditching their cars.

We know from our own campaigns at Global Cool that most people want to know what’s in it for them (being as cool and sexy as Brad Pitt, for example) rather than what’s in it for the planet. Does that matter? Absolutely not. Getting people to change their behaviour to reduce carbon emissions is the aim, not getting them to believe in climate change and become eco warriors. We’ll need to make taking the bus just as aspirational as driving a car, and if we need Brad Pitt’s help to do that, that’s fine.

That’s why Global Cool has recently announced a partnership with the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), who will facilitate us working with the film industry to ‘place’ green behaviours into films. This isn’t about making the production of films more green, it’s about using the film to show green behaviours, leveraging film’s power to pull large audiences which influence people’s lifestyle choices.

If it works for Nescafe then it can work for climate change too.

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It’s official – consumers really do take the green option

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 | News | No Comments

ocado vanMany many pieces of market research ask consumers whether they would take a green option if it were no more work or hassle or money. And of course, loads of people say that they would, but surveying people about what they would do is notoriously unreliable: As Henry Ford said, “If I’d asked them what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”.

For one thing, people don’t know what they would do in some hypothetical circumstance, and for another, people normally say what they think you want to hear, or what they ought to say. So it’s much more interesting to see what they do actually do, when faced with real choices.

Interesting, then, to learn that the majority of Ocado’s customers choose the ‘green van’ option. Ocado delivers groceries, and when you book a delivery sot, some slots are already marked with a green van, meaning that there will be a delivery in your area at that time – and therefore the carbon impact of delivering to you at that time is lower. It’s a good “experiment” because there’s no price differential – no incentive either way. Evidently, many people just want their groceries on, say, Thursday morning and don’t mind precisely when. Logistics and price being equal, they’re happy to have a more environmental option. This is a much better indication of their interest and tolerance than hypothetical questions.

But the real issue is this: Given that the ‘green van’ means that the van is in your area anyway, there must be a cost saving for Ocado. So why don’t they reward their green customers by passing that saving on?

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Train vs car: The challenges ahead

Monday, December 6th, 2010 | News | No Comments

trains“Millions of commuters are likely to switch from trains to cars to avoid double-digit fare increases next month,” claimed the front page of the Metro this morning.

Bad news for the environment, if it’s true.

It’s important to point out that the story is based on a survey of people reporting what they WOULD do – a notoriously inaccurate reflection of what they actually WILL do.

That said, if rail fares do need to rise this much, then why are we letting rail companies and the government make them so much more expensive? Surely we’ve all got to the point by now that we need more rail travel. People want better trains and will pay for them: in recent votes in both California and Switzerland, people said that they were happy to pay more tax in order to fund better rail.

The train companies should also be doing more to market the other benefits of using the train rather than the car, for example the ability to do work while you’re on the move. (We’ve talked before about how rail companies could promote the journey itself.)

And finally, car sharing. If we are priced off trains, let’s at least be intelligent about how we use cars – by car-sharing as much as possible. Employers can do a lot here, such as helping employees who live near each other to connect; and councils can do a lot to run ‘find a car-share’ schemes as well.

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We create content about music, fashion, celebrity and lifestyle trends. We use this content to inspire people normally turned off by climate change to lead greener lives. We reached more than 200,000 people in 2011 and we don't preach to the converted. In fact, 93% of our audience say we are the only green organisation they engage with.

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