Save Energy or the Puppy Gets it!Posted by henry in blog October 20, 2009
This is, quite literally the message in the latest Act On CO2 advert from DECC, "Bedtime Stories".
According to Sky news it’s already received more than 200 complaints and no wonder. It’s as if the ‘green police’ are climbing into bed with your children and telling them that, unless daddy turns the TV off standby, Mr Snuggles sleeps with the fishes.
Now, I know that’s not the message they were going for and yes, we all know that the apocalyptic vision of the world as a briny soup filled with the corpses of dead pets is all too likely but that’s not the point. It’s not enough to be right. It’s not enough to be ‘the good guys’ trying to save the world. Climate change communications have to be effective.
The objective is to change public behaviour. We know that guilt shuts people down. We know that criticising home and family is unproductive. They both lead to what’s called psychological reactance, or ‘the sod off factor’, especially when the messenger is an unpopular government.
We know that concern about the future is a poor mechanism for changing daily habits - after all people smoke, eat too many donuts and overspend on their credit cards despite the fact they know about cancer, obesity and bankruptcy.
And worse of all this advert is, as Soli mentioned on her Newnight appearance last week, selling Hell.
This is a deeply frustrating advert, especially as there’s so much interesting work that’s being done on behaviour change at the moment from behavioural economics and nudge to how design can influence behaviour.
I guess there’s clearly some way still to go getting the message across.