Climate Change

Eco Terrorism vs Vinnie Jones and Porn: Which Would You Rather Watch?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012 | Our Philosophy | No Comments

Kudos to the British Heart Foundation for their Hard and Fast video campaign starring Vinnie Jones.

Aimed at educating the general public on the best way to perform CPR, the video sends up Jones’ typecast gangster persona by making a Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels spoof in which the former footballer – flanked by two blokes who look like they’re appearing in the video in order to fund their way through Bouncer School – resuscitates a ‘geezer’ using only his hands because “you only kiss your Missus on the lips”…

The campaign went viral, racking up more than a million views on YouTube and earning a string of press coverage. By embracing celebrity culture, keeping the message simple and adding a twist of humour into the mix (the soundtrack for the video is the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive), the British Heart Foundation unlocked a mass audience for a message that without the help of Jones and his burly companions could have been pretty worthy and dull.

Compare and contrast with some of the eco movement’s attempts to engage a mass audience. Treehugger website recently hailed the fact that five ‘eco movies’ have been shortlisted in the Best Documentary category for this year’s Oscars as a sign of the subject’s rising popularity. Those films are: If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (a tale about eco terrorists), Battle for Brooklyn, Jane’s Journey, Semper Fi: Always Faithful, and Project Nim. How many have you seen? How many of them have you even heard of? Thought not…

At the time of writing the You ube trailers for those movies have a total of 82,046 views between them. That’s more than 10 times less than what Vinnie managed on his own. Where the British Heart Foundation was brave enough to put its tongue firmly in its cheek to communicate an important message, too many in the green movement lack the boldness to make content that might appeal to people who have different interests to them (i.e. things other than climate change).

PETA, the US-based campaign for the ethical treatment of animals, has a history of taking a more populist approach to getting their message across. Much like Global Cool, the climate change campaign I work for, PETA has used celebrity association to engage the mainstream with their work. Their latest campaign will see them take their message into the world of pornography with the launch of a new .xxx domain version of their website. Users of the site will be forced to watch an animal being skinned before they get to see a celebrity in the buff.

Whether anyone will still be in the, er, ‘mood’ for doing whatever it is that they do while looking at naked ladies on the internet (I couldn’t possibly comment) once they’ve seen an animal being liberated of its fur is up for debate. It’s unlikely to win PETA any Oscars, that’s for sure. But common consensus (and a load of search data from Google, no doubt) certainly suggests that the potential audience for PETA’s message is significantly higher in the porn world than it is in the eco documentary world.

Eco terrorists and those who make documentaries about them should take note.

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Solving climate change the Steve Jobs way

Thursday, January 5th, 2012 | Our Philosophy | No Comments

steve jobsThis post was originally published in the Huffington Post

Apple is hardly a beacon of environmental good practice, but that doesn’t mean Steve Jobs didn’t play his part in helping to find a solution to climate change.

Climate change does not have an awareness problem. It does, however, have a marketing problem. Plenty has been done to raise awareness, but very little has been done to effectively market green solutions to the general public.

Of course, the climate change problem is very simple to sum up: the human race is producing more and more carbon dioxide, therefore global temperatures are rising, therefore the earth will eventually no longer be a place that human beings are able to exist in. In a nutshell: “Hello dinosaurs and dodos, nice to meet you, we’re the human race!”

It’s the simplicity of this message that seems to make it the default when people try and talk to the public about sustainability.

The actions that individuals can take to help combat climate change are so much more difficult to summarise. This is because the behaviours that are causing us to produce too much carbon dioxide are wide ranging. Just think about all the ways you could waste energy in your home: washing clothes at unnecessarily high temperatures, sitting around in shorts and t-shirt with the heating pumping out to the max, re-boiling the kettle because you forgot to make your brew the first time it boiled. The list goes on, and that’s before you’ve even put a foot outside your front door.

There is no one-size-fits-all way to discourage humans from behaving in these ways. In some cases, the free market, driven by the profit motive, can provide a way for the public to consume products in a less wasteful way. The iPod is a great example of this. By creating this product, Steve Jobs and Apple vastly reduced the demand for CDs, the plastic cases that they come in and the transportation that is required to take them to the shops.

Of course, product innovations such as the iPod won’t always be the answer. For other behaviours, it’s necessary to motivate the public to consume less, not just differently.

For some people, appeals to thrift might work. In these times of economic turmoil and rising energy prices, the financial motive for energy efficient homes has never been stronger. But when it comes to behaviour change, the solution is rarely as one-dimensional as that. Not everyone is motivated in the same way, and therefore not everyone cares about financial prudence.

Similarly, not everyone is equally empowered to change their behaviour. So reinsulating the loft to save money might float a homeowner’s boat, but someone living in rented accommodation is less likely to know how their heating system works, or feel able to do much about it. They might, however, be persuaded to turn down their heating to a lower temperature if they can be convinced that having it too hot is drying out their skin and making them age prematurely (which it is).

The possible solutions to high-carbon behaviours are almost endless, but what almost all of them have in common is that they do not require the consumer to understand the problem they are helping to solve – just as people who bought the iPod probably did not know (or care) that they were reducing the demand for CDs.

The person who puts on a jumper so they can turn down their heating and protect their skin does not need to know how much CO2 they have saved – nor does the person who ditches the car for the bike because they want to be fitter, or the person who takes canvas bags to the supermarket because they have cooler designs and are more comfortable on the fingers than plastic ones.

Whether knowingly or not, Steve Jobs made us all accidental environmentalists, but that was never part of the marketing strategy. We all bought iPods because they were more convenient, beautifully designed and – crucially – because Apple managed to convince us that we would be happier with one than without.

We need to find more green solutions like this for a whole range of behaviours. This presents a much greater creative challenge than simply talking about melting ice caps, carbon calculators or slapping an “eco” label on something. It’s time for us all to take inspiration from Steve Jobs and step up to this creative challenge.

Image via philozopher

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Measuring climate change campaigns: What’s the relation between online and offline behaviour?

Monday, September 12th, 2011 | Global Cool | No Comments

At Global Cool we have rigorously measured our climate change campaigns and published the results in detail here.

We also measure our online campaigning activity in great detail, which provides a gold mine of data about how many people we can reach, where and how we can reach them and  - perhaps most interestingly for us as an organisation trying to persuade people to change their behaviour – how deeply they do or don’t engage with our ideas.

laptopBut, whilst all this online data is great in terms of helping us understand how best to communicate with our target audience, it doesn’t really tell us very much about how our audience behaves in ‘the real world’ once they have interacted with us online. (N.B. Our digital activity has focused on engaging and educating the public with specific actions, rather than building tools that might, for example, measure an individual’s carbon footprint, which we think would exclude the very audience we’re trying to reach.)

To some extent, the surveys and focus groups we do can tell us whether our campaigning is actually changing people’s behaviour, and we have seen some positive results, for example the number of people who said they would wear woolly jumpers at home rose from 12% to 18% following our Turn Up The Style, Turn Down The Heat campaign. Nevertheless, it is still useful to see other evidence that online engagement is an effective way of persuading people to change their behaviour.

Therefore we were pleased to liaise with Michele Mazza from Imperial College recently, who has done some excellent work into the relation between online and offline behaviour. Essentially what we wanted to know from Michele was: If someone likes us on Facebook, or retweets us on Twitter, or signs up for our newsletter, does this mean they will then go on to adopt the behaviours that we are promoting? Michele reported back as follows:

Assessing whether individuals online engagement with organisations influences offline behaviour has proven a very interesting but particularly challenging aspect to evaluate.

While in the case of private sector this issue is less problematic, since the sale of a product can be seen as a ‘primer’ to measure the effectiveness of an online campaign, for public and NGO’s organisation the task is trickier.

However recent studies by Cugelman (Cugelman et al. (2009), (2010)) involving meta-analytical techniques used to assess the impact of online interventions in influencing individual’s offline behaviours, depict a positive picture.

Cugelman first distinguishes between Macro-behaviours, described as primary behaviours targeted by an online intervention; and micro-behaviours describes as routine behaviours that people perform online, intended to lead to the macro-behaviour. For example, a micro-behaviour would describe when a person registered for a weight-loss intervention, while the macro-behaviour would be dieting.

He demonstrates how Microsuasion, i.e. small persuasive tactics used to encourage the performance of minor online tasks, such as signing up for a newsletter or clicking on a hyperlink (Fogg, 2003), are very effective in driving micro-behaviour change. More importantly he also founds correlation between micro and macro-behaviour change, since ” online behaviour outcomes can be seen as a process that includes a small number of online activities leading to significant impacts later on” Cugelman (2010).

This is particularly true when the number of online features in an intervention, i.e. the number of micro-behaviour to perform, is high. (Vandelanotte, et al., 2007). Add to this in another study (Cugelman et al., 2009) Cugelman suggests how the web site credibility, in terms of expertise, trustworthiness and visual appeal is also a key component in effectiveness of online behavioural change interventions.

Finally he also shows how online interventions can match and sometimes outperform interventions distributed over traditional media.

Of course these studies do not fully solve the problem of being able to isolate the effects of Global Cool online activity from the myriad of other influences on people’s ‘green’ behaviour. But they demonstrate how online micro-suasion can lead to micro-behaviour change and how many micro-behaviour changes can lead to macro-behaviour ones.

So they can be seen as a further justification of your approach, and are good selling points!

Many thanks to Michele for this useful research, which would seem to reinforce our approach to online climate change campaigning. We’d be interested to hear from other organisations on their views about the relationship between online and offline behaviour in the comments…

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How to encourage green behaviour

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 | Our Philosophy | No Comments

There was an interesting and thought-provoking piece in Green Futures last week about changing people’s behaviour in order to prevent climate change, rather than simply raising awareness – as we’ve said many times before, climate change does not have an awareness problem, it has a marketing problem.

The piece describes behaviour change as “the holy grail” of sustainability. We would wholeheartedly agree with that, which is why Global Cool focuses its campaigns on getting people to make green lifestyle choices based on things that motivate them – mainly celebrity, sex, looking and feeling great.

Global Cool’s Executive Director, Caroline Fiennes, is quoted in the piece. You can read it in full here.

Do you agree or disagree? We’d love to know why so let us know in the comments box below…

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Climate Week: Green comms need to reach those not interested in “doing their bit” too

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 | Our Philosophy | No Comments

This week is Climate Week, aimed at people “wanting to do their bit to help combat climate change.” At Global Cool we aim to reach people who are not interested in “doing their bit”. That’s why we’ve launched a paper and a TEDx video (below) this week.

The group of people who are untouched by events like Climate Week are in the majority – so although climate change no longer has an awareness problem, it does have a marketing problem. If we’re to make the necessary cuts in emissions, we need everybody to take up low-carbon lifestyles, not just those who want to “do their bit”.

Remember that old adage “if what you’re doing isn’t working, you’d better do something else”? Well, for two years now, Global Cool has been doing something else – ‘selling’ low-carbon behaviours by focusing on the benefits to the individual.

Global Cool’s new paper – Selling Green Lifestyles: Results from Two Years’ Innovation – discusses the theory underlying our approach, the results of our campaigns (which we’re meticulous about measuring) and the key learnings. It’s not an arduous read: only six pages, and that includes a load of pictures & graphs.

The video is Global Cool’s Executive Director Caroline Fiennes presenting this approach recently at TEDx – learning lessons from iPhones, Kindles, scooters, dental care and jokes.

We’re sharing this material with you – our peers and partners – in the hope that it is helpful for you, so please do forward it around liberally. We would love your thoughts and reactions.

To view the white paper, please click here

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TED video: Global Cool’s Caroline Fiennes speaking on climate change at TEDx Warwick

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 | Our Philosophy | No Comments

Global Cool’s Executive Director Caroline Fiennes spoke about our approach to tackling climate change at TEDx Warwick recently.

The talk focused on Global Cool‘s core principle: the need to sell low-carbon behaviours by focusing on the benefit to the individual – a message that seems particularly apt during Climate Week, which is aimed at people “wanting to do their bit to help climate change”.

Global Cool’s work reaches those who have no interest in “doing their bit”, who happen to be in the majority. If we’re to make the necessary cuts to emissions then it is vital that we engage these people. That’s why we take our lead from the way commercial products like iPhones and Kindles are promoted to consumers when we design Global Cool’s campaigns to promote green lifestyle choices.

You can watch Caroline Fiennes’ TEDx Warwick talk in full here…

If you have any opinions on this video or on any aspect of Global Cool’s approach to tackling climate change we’d love to read your views in the comment box below…

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New Global Cool white paper focuses on how to solve climate change’s marketing problem

Monday, March 14th, 2011 | Our Philosophy | 1 Comment

global cool swishingSelling Green Lifestyles: Results From Two Years’ Innovation – a white paper by Global Cool

Climate change does not have an awareness problem, it has a marketing problem.

For two years Global Cool has been promoting green lifestyles using a highly differentiated approach, focusing not on the problem (rising temperatures, melting ice caps etc), but on the interests of people we’re trying to influence (fun, socialising, being cool etc). After all, the climate doesn’t care why people adopt behaviours that are more green, all that matters is that they do and that we find a solution to climate change.

This week we’re releasing a white paper on Selling Green Lifestyles. It discusses our learnings and results from the past two years of campaigning to reach Outer Directed people. We’re sharing this with our peers and partners so that others may benefit from the insights that underpin our approach and the results that this has generated for us. You can also find a full report on our campaign results here.

In a nutshell, we believe that if we’re going to successfully move sustainable living out of the niche and into the mainstream, it’s necessary to focus like a hawk on the benefits to your audience, and not the climate problem. Some people have used this approach and got it right, and the paper highlights a few examples of campaigns we like. However for the majority, there’s still a long way to go to make green a desirable mainstream proposition.

We’d love to know what you think of the paper, and also hear some of your thoughts on selling green lifestyles, so please leave comments on this post or get in touch with us directly.

To view the full white paper please click here.

A big thank you to Emily Rycroft and Chloe Swart for researching and producing this paper.

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Global Cool talking about climate change at the National Theatre

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 | Our Philosophy | No Comments

Caroline Fiennes, our CEO, spoke last week at the National Theatre, on a programme to engage and inform young people about major global issues. The programme includes 16-19 year olds, from state schools in every London borough, and covers climate change, politics and activism, as well as individual/consumer behaviour and the relationship between them. It challenges young people to think seriously about their role in their communities, both local and global. The programme also places their responses to this challenge, their ideas and their creative practice, at the heart of one of the world’s leading artistic organisations.

Firstly, Caroline covered – and got the students to do loads of interactive exercises around – how climate change requires a large range of solutions (on both reducing demand for energy – which is what Global Cool does –and looking for alternative supply sources).

“My experience is that the ‘climate change industry’ is full of people with ‘the solution’: it’s wave, it’s wind, it’s this light electric vehicle, it’s about population control. In fact, we need the whole lot – because this challenge is so massive. As a former colleague of mine says: “the answer is AND”. So the first point for the young people was to put all these ‘solutions’ in context: showing that demand for energy in the UK exceeds the amount we can produce from non-carbon-intensive sources – to we better look to fix both supply and demand.” We drew a lot on the data handily provided for free by Prof. David MacKay in his book Sustainable Energy: Without Hot Air (which you can download for free here).

Secondly, she covered how Global Cool works – ie, our techniques for reducing demand by changing consumer behaviour. Make it attractive to the individual and make it easy for them! We explain Global Cool’s objectives and approach here and in this article in the Ecologist.

Global Cool’s presentation went down well. Organiser (and author) Jean McNeil said: “Speaking with the kids during our break they said they loved it – they felt you were very down to earth and positive about low carbon lifestyles. It has probably inspired them more than any other single talk we have had.”

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Global Cool Impact Assessment report released today

Thursday, July 8th, 2010 | Global Cool | No Comments

Global Cool Campaign Impact ReportGlobal Cool is immensely proud to publish research that shows our campaigns are having an impact – and how serious we are about measuring and understanding our results.

We have now completed a full cycle of our four campaign areas – the Art of Swishing, where we worked with fashion to promote clothes recycling; promoting alternatives to driving (Do it in Public); using less energy at home (Turn up the Style, Turn down the Heat); and alternatives to flying (we promoted Traincations). Each campaign has succeeded in reaching and influencing our target audience – no mean feat given the innovative way in which Global Cool operates and the breadth of these topics.

Global Cool’s approach to promoting low-carbon behaviours fits what the Institute for Government calls “evidence-based innovation” – in other words, using techniques that have proven effective elsewhere (in our case, from commercial experience of selling to our target audience) and applying them in a new context.

Download Global Cool Campaigning Impact January 2009 – June 2010 here

Tris Lumley, Head of Strategy at New Philanthropy Capital, said: “I’m really impressed that Global Cool is so serious about measuring its results. This is really hard to do, especially for campaigning charities. In NPC’s experience, there is far too little focus across the sector on understanding results. And Global Cool’s results look great.”

Here are some of the findings that we’re excited about:

  • Some of our campaigns aim to build awareness of low carbon behaviours such as “swishing” or taking train-based holidays to destinations beyond Paris and Brussels, and they’ve been successful. For example, awareness of swishing rose from 6.7% to 12% among 18-24 year olds.
  • Other campaigns are more about influencing attitudes, such as towards taking journeys on trains and buses, or wearing warm clothes in winter, and we’ve succeeded here as well. After our “Wrap up for winter campaign” the proportion of people who said they were inspired to wear warmer clothes at home rose from 12% to 18%.
  • We’re effectively finding our target market: 80% of people we talk to are ‘Outer Directed’ vs. less than half that in the general population. After four campaigns 30% of ODs have at least heard of Global Cool, up from 16% in January 2009.
  • We’re building our reach through our campaigns and through our web traffic, social networking members, press coverage, etc. Already the cumulative reach of our campaigns is over 238 million.
  • We get great feedback from focus groups (“The blog is readable and the photos show that it’s fun and active rather than just preaching, it’s an organisation out there doing something”) and social network sites (“Global Cool features really interesting & entertaining articles that just HAPPEN to promote an eco friendly lifestyle.”). A person our chief executive met at a party right after the launch of our home heating campaign said “Oh you made those videos? I loved them! I thought I’ll try that. So I put on a jumper and turned down my heating. It had never occurred to me to do that before!”

Measuring the results of any kind of campaign is not easy. People’s behaviour is influenced by many external factors beyond our control (volcanos, airline strikes, etc.), so even when we see changes in attitudes and/or behaviour, it can be hard (and sometimes impossible) to pin down what caused them. Global Cool therefore measures interim stages of attitude as well as interaction with our audience – what we call reach and engagement – in addition to action. We also look at many types of data – including surveys of the general public before and after each campaign, surveys of our subscribers, focus groups, and third party research.

Find out more about Global Cool’s objectives, approach, target audience and target actions here

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We run Global Cool, the only online magazine in the UK truly inspiring the mainstream to live greener

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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