Action Through Advertising

Taking a leaf out of the advertisers’ book may be the key to succeeding in the fight against global warming and ecological apathy. At least, that’s the view Robert Butler takes after looking at the successes of a novel advertising campaign used to cut the incidence of littering in Texas:

The ads avoided the negatives of guilt and shame in favour of the positives of pride and group identity. Within a year, roadside litter had dropped by 29%; within five years, by 72%. The campaign had targeted a specific group with a message from “people-like-them” that they were willing to hear. Compare this with the prim admonitory vagueness of “Keep Britain Tidy”.

This brings to mind a quote from an article (discussed previously) commenting on how governments are taking advantage of the public’s cognitive biases for political and environmental gain.

Like millions of others, Heath had found that simply being told she ought to save energy had little effect on her habits – and she actively resents the idea of being punished for disobeying government diktats on environmentalism. Drive a big car? You’re bad – pay a penalty.