Common Cause

Global Cool: A case study in Values Mode campaigning

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 | Our Philosophy | 3 Comments

There is disagreement between many within the environmental movement over how best to engage the public with climate change and, in particular, how to persuade them to make green behaviour choices. A recent report by advocates of the Common Cause approach attempted to discredit the Values Mode approach, which is advocated by Chris Rose and Pat Dade (both members of our advisory committee) and used by Global Cool as the basis for our theory of change.

As implementers of the Values Mode approach, rather than its architects, it is not our place to address the specific concerns raised within the report – called Limitations of Environmental Campaigning Based on Values for Money, Image and Status. Nevertheless, we did feel it was worth presenting an actual real-world case study of Values Mode campaigning in action as a reminder of how it can – and does – work.

Global Cool has been using the Values Mode campaigning approach for three years. Our goal is to persuade the public to make more green lifestyle choices in order to reduce their carbon emissions. We target the values mode known as ‘Now People’, who are generally fashion-conscious trendsetters motivated by status, success, wealth, looking good and having a good time. ‘Now People’ represent a significant proportion of the population and therefore the environmental movement cannot succeed without engaging them – which it has largely failed to do so far.

Global Cool has created innovative climate change campaigns and content that promote green behaviour without alienating ‘Now People’. We have done this by:

- Focusing on the benefits of green behaviours; making them fun and positive: ‘Now People’ don’t like being told what to do, nor do they respond to data-driven reasoning. The Al Gore approach to communicating climate change issues could not be more alienating for a Now Person.

- Using relevant language and tone of voice: Global Cool does not talk about data or science. In fact, we avoid the words ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ and ‘carbon emissions’ at all costs. Instead we focus on promoting specific green behaviours.

- Associating green behaviours with subjects they are interested in: We use fashion, music, celebrity, travel and other topics ‘Now People’ are interested in to promote green behaviours.

- Offering practical solutions: ‘Now People’ are aware that climate change is a problem but they don’t know what they can do about it. They feel alienated by most climate change comms. Global Cool makes green behaviours easy as well as fun.

Has it worked?

Our impact data suggests we are persuading people to change their behaviour: after our home energy campaign in 2010 the number of people who said they would consider wearing trendy knitwear in order to turn their heating down increased from 12% to 18%. Our research also shows that we are reaching the right people. In fact, 80% of our audience were identified as being ‘outer directed’ (the broader values mode group that includes ‘Now People’). And that we’re continuing to grow too: our online reach has increased from 37,000 to 77,000 per month, with around 10% demonstrating engagement with our ideas.

We hope that our approach demonstrates that it is possible to create consumer-facing comms that effectively use the values mode approach to deliver green messaging and, more importantly, to influence people’s behaviour in order to reduce carbon emissions. Nevertheless, we are interested to know your thoughts on our approach and ideas for improving it…

Read more about our theory of change

Read more about our impact results

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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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