You marketers should save the world already
David Reich had to up and go to Magazine Day and now I'm thinking about the fate of the world. This week is supposed to be my "back to work as usual" week. Now in addition to posting bad words on my blog I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. Damn him.
See, many of the new publications that were unveiled at the magazine show David attended are green-focused. Bravo to Sprig for a great strategy--"convincing 95% of people to be 5% green rather than 5% of people to be 95% green"--and a great name (Spring stands for "Stylish People Are Into Green"), but boo to National Geographic for taking the line-extension route into green (yawn).
Thinking green got me thinking: will the fate of the world--meaning, will it stay green or be very blue with all the ice-caps melting--come down to how well we marketers do in promoting environmentally responsible initiatives?
No, I don't think the world revolves around marketing (or marketers). But I am convinced marketing drives many, if not most, of the world's decisions.
I've been vocal before in saying how we marketers can greatly effect body image and safe sex, so it seems we can do a better job of marketing the very planet that houses our very markets. Because what we've been doing isn't working. At least not well enough.
Since Al Gore went Hollywood, he has done a fine (!) job of amplifying the save-the-world message. But the very words "Global Warming"...as comedy master Bill Maher astutely pointed-out... sound warm and kinda fuzzy. It sounds like a nice initiative that warms the globe's heart. After all, who wants a cold world? (I understand the ice age was a real buzzkill).
Yes, regulations play their part and yes, companies need to be encouraged (and, many times, forced) to be responsible. But in getting consumers to join the green movement we need less stick more carrot. The death and destruction cries don't do it; people have enough to be guilty about, trust me (I've written about green guilt here).
Watching An Inconvenient Truth, I hated seeing the images of hurricanes and hurt people. And those poor polar bears just made me heartsick. But, statistically speaking, those images aren't affecting people. At least not enough of them. And definitely not for long enough. The best move of Gore's movie? Enlisting Melissa Etheridge to belt her Oscar-winning "I need to wake up" ditty. Why? Because it was cool.
I believe it was in the book The Tipping Point where Gladwell pointed out the reason so many anti-smoking campaigns fell flat was because it was never that "smoking was cool" it was always that "smokers were cool." Marlboro's audience wasn't cowboys (cowboys roll their own cigs). It was city-dwellers and suburbanites who didn't so much long for a horse as they did that cowboy cool. When all the money placed into "smoking kills" ads didn't do the trick, people finally started to understand that featuring non-smoking "cool" role models in films and such works much better.
So it stands to reason that we need to make a greener lifestyle cool. Now we can't outright say it's cool (that wouldn't be too cool), we need to show it--and encourage people to want to experience it. And align themselves with it.
Sure, consumers want to do right by the earth. But primarily, they want to do right by themselves. Maybe these desires need not be mutually exclusive. We need incentives because the cries over of our climate being way out of control isn't incentivizing enough. Cooler-looking "green stuff' is a good idea (the Prius), cooler messaging is another (the Etheridge song) and mags (like Sprig, possibly) that explore a myriad of cool items like fashion, beauty and tech is a great idea, too. I think these are the right direction. Sure hope so.
Plus, I rather fancy the idea of marketers saving the world...rather than being to blame for all its ills. Hmm, perhaps I should pitch that idea to some movie execs.
P.S.: Should we fail marketers, at least there's the possibility of living here.