SAVE POWER- WHAT CAN YOU DO IN YOUR WORLD? Campaign

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The campaign SAVE POWER- WHAT CAN YOU DO IN YOUR WORLD? is an australian initiative from the New South Wales (NSW) State Government launched in May 2009 and set up for almost two years as a response to the community’s request for more information about electricity impacts in the environment and ways to reduce them and save money in bills.

The objective of this campaign was to show households, public facilities and businesses different actions they could take in order to reduce carbon pollution and save money during peak electricity use periods (winter and summer).

This campaign was part of a larger program for community awareness, which include communications, community education, training and research under the framework of the different Energy Efficiency Strategy programs of NSW Government.

According to the Strategic Communications Site of NSW Government, this initiative was addressed to the 5.6 million over 18 years old in NSW, in order to offset the trend of increasing electricity consumption. The idea was to raise awareness about carbon pollution that comes from the coal-fired power stations (source of 90% of the NSW’s electricity). They tried to cover all the NSW community; apparently the campaign didn’t follow a “segmentation approach” targeting a specific audience with a defined message. They tried to raise awareness on a grand scale, which is often ineffective in terms of social marketing but it could create social capital in the community, as they put emphasis on the collective problem instead of on the differences between people. Even though the campaign’s education and training features were more specific targeted programs.

The general idea of this campaign was taken from the Victorian Government campaign created by George Patterson Y&R. The idea is simple “black ballons” being filled by greenhouse gas coming out of the electronic devices at home. Using the “black ballon” as a device to represent 50 grams carbon pollution, they gave a tangible mesure and make people visualize an apparently invisible problem, this creates and strong visual appeal and generates different emotional triggers. First because it’s happening in your home, what makes a connection to your everyday life and creates a sense of responsability. Second, because they are black and they are increasing what can trigger fear and at the same time a sense of urgency.

The call for action is relatively effective, many actions are simple and incite people to act without a negative spillover because the campaign was part of a comprehensive program that used different tools such as education and training to make people understand that their little actions are important for the community, for the future generations and for the world. They took into account the financial incentive that could work for some part of the population but they didn’t focus on it. They focused in the social norms and values, which are important components for sustainable development and long-term results.

The Victorian campaign was adapted based on research about its effectiviness, the main changes were the following terms: ‘Carbon pollution’ instead of ‘greenhouse gas’, ‘environment’ instead of ‘climate change’ and ‘power’ instead of ‘energy’. An interesting feature of NWS campaign was that the main idea behind was to create an “integrated program aimed to change knowledge, attitudes and behavior, and influence social norms through a range of tools”. They tried to focus in “the ‘rules’ a group uses to determine appropriate/inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors, which is powerful because regulate acceptance and popularity in group.” This approach let us think that they were trying to overcome the limitations of social marketing creating a value-based campaign with a deep framing that really engage public in climate change.

The campaign used different channels of information such as TV, digital, outdoor, radio and print. The campaign website included an interactive feature that allow people to measure and commit with actions to reduce the number of balloons they produce.

Campaign Website

Campaign Website

According to the Strategic Communications Site of NSW Government, the media research techniques applied by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW to know the impacts and evaluate the awareness raised by this campaign were positive. There were high targeted audience rating points, 81% of public supported the campaign, 72% of those who saw the campaign on TV recalled at least one specific tip to save energy and awareness of installing energy saving systems such as solar panels and hot water systems doubled during the campaign period.

Specific Tip in Campaign Print

Specific Tip in Campaign Print

This campaign was broader than its Victorian predecessor; it took the most important feature, a “black balloon” as a tangible device, but was perfected in a more comprehensive strategy. The NSW Government SAVE POWER campaign intended to engage people in behaviors beyond energy efficiency appliances, target specific programs, support participation in other Energy Efficiency Strategy activities, build synergies with existing programs and build capacity through support and training. The success to make visible the invisible in this campaign probably inspired new efforts such as the “New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions” film (A Carbon Visuals film for Environmental Defense Fund) (

).

SAVE POWER- WHAT CAN YOU DO IN YOUR WORLD? Successfully integrated the strengths of the Victoria Government’s Black Balloons Awareness Campaign in a more comprehensive and broader program that overcome many of the limitations of social marketing for engaging the public in climate change. The outcomes of this campaign were measurable through the campaign website and the media research tools and more important, they were focused not only in simple low-impact individual behaviors but also in a broader social context. This campaign was a good initiative to make people understand their impact in a global problem; it still used the economic incentive, which can be negative in the long-term, but it took it only as another benefit from a larger objective.

People’s march for climate campaign

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The people’s march for climate is a large-scale campaign for a worldwide demonstration on September the 21th. The aim of the event is to mobilize large amounts of people to show people’s concern for climate change and put pressure on politicians before the COP21.

The communication strategy was based on the project of achieving “the largest mobilization the world has ever seen on climate change” (Avaaz website). How to mobilize people on a very large scale about climate change issues appeared as the main challenge.

The result was a very consensual, but extremely vague punch line. Avaaz, which is an online platform aiming at mobilizing world citizens about climate change and human rights issues, launched a large campaign on the theme of saving the planet, with the slogan : “To change everything, it takes everyone – Let’s get started !”.

The posters for advertising the event were designed along the same communication strategy. One of the most visible posters (Poster 1) shows two characters looking at the sky with big shining eyes. The people here are pictured as central; the characters’ faces occupy most of the space. The poster clearly aim at presenting characters anyone can relate to. The visibility of the posters in large-formats in subway stations contributes to the large-public strategy. The reference to climate change issues is rather discrete. The green hearts stand for the People’s March logo. Further, one could regret the lack of cleavage and the absence of precise political message. Everyone can be anyone – it can also be nobody in particular.

150_JamesJeanPoster 1

The second poster analyzed (Poster 2), put up in New York City as well as the first one, displays a more radical message. A drawing of the Statue of Liberty shrinking is accompanied by the Avaaz’s slogan and the title: “March to save the world”. Here, the message is more directly related to climate change and more “catastrophist”. Every single New Yorker is expected to see himself/herself in the shrinking Statue of Liberty, the most symbolic New York statue. At the same time, the idea of mobilizing to “save the world” broadens even more the scope of the possible target “causes”.

tochangeeverythingPoster 2

The diversity of communication campaigns through different posters displaying various messages about climate change mobilization reflects the desire to attract the largest possible number of people to the march. The underlying assumption here is not that people mobilize in order to save the world. People mobilize for very specific claims: LGBT rights, protection of the Amazonian forest, protests against meet consumption, etc. In this respect, the People’s Climate March Campaign was successful, as demonstrations in cities over the world gathered groups of various identities and claims. It managed to advertize anti-climate change activism as a popular cause which was not restricted to unknown and invisible ecologist activists. In this sense, the campaign rendered visible the popular and consensual character or climate change issues. However, a highly general and consensual message resulted in confused reactions and lacks of clarity as regard the common message that was displayed. It could be argued that visibility in this case was gained at the cost of clarity.

Nexus – Back to the Start

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The video « Back to the Start » was created in 2011 to promote the « Chipotle Cultivate Foundation », an initiative launched by the Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle, dedicated to supporting family farming, sustainable agriculture and culinary education in the United States. It was realized by Nexus, a London-based film and interactive media company, and features an interpretation of Coldplay’s song « The Scientist » by the American singer Willie Nelson. 

« Back to the Start » is organized in two parts. The first part of the clip displays the progressive path towards the industrialization of meat production, with explicit signs of the ills brought about by the excessive commodification of farmed animals. The viewer powerlessly witnesses the creation of the whole « factory farming » production chain, as grain silos, factories and highways unfold on the background. All the while, the pigs, at first free and happily gamboling on fields of green grass, are progressively captured into a seemingly unstoppable and implacable mechanical movement, by which they end up processed and sent to trucks for distribution. As nature gets tamed and the urban civilization expands, all life fades away, with bright colors slowly turning to asphalt grey.

The second part of the video starts with a farmer walking on the outside; it’s cold and snowy. He realizes how industrial farming – the antibiotics pills, the jam-packed sheds, and the polluted environment that comes with it – have perverted all that stands around him. So, he decides to « go back to the start » (as providentially announced by Willie Nelson at 1:29) and he breaks down the barriers that used to stand between him and the animals – and by extent, between him and nature. A new, virtuous cycle of production begins, and the video ends up – no big surprise – on an spotless white chipotle minivan embarking the fruits of the new farmer’s heaven.

An interesting element of this campaign is that it directly calls the viewer’s attention on the environmental impact of factory farming, less discussed and present to mind than the overwhelming moral question of animal cruelty and dehumanization. It is known that factory farming makes a 30% higher contribution to the emission of greenhouse gases than transportation globally; factory farming is also a major source of land, water and air pollution. The aftermath of industrial production on the environment is clearly depicted in the video when, for instance, we see the pollution smokes created by factories, or the toxic industrial waste being rejected into and subsequently contaminating clear waterways. On the other hand, family farming is associated with the traditional imagery of sustainability, when we for instance see wind turbines popping up on the distant hills (1:40). The video works on visual codification opposing green to grey, thereby separating what is sustainable from what is not, and simultaneously inscribing family farming into a a set of practices that are known to be respectful of the environment.

What makes this video great is both its graphic performance and originality – the video was realized using traditional stop frame model animation techniques – and the Coldplay song interpreted by singer Willie Nelson, known for his engagement along family farming and to sustainable modes of meat production. The participation of Willie Nelson brings leadership to the campaign, as well as a sense a broader connectedness to traditional american values that I believe the artist embodies quite well. What makes « Back to the Start » so compelling is that, while appealing to virtually everyone – except maybe for a few anti-corporate cynics, the video also calls back to the deeper American narrative of pioneering, of going back to a state of justice and respect towards nature that may once have animated the first settlers on the New Continent. Hence, the powerful, emotional narrative at play behind this video is not only that of cruel animal treatment, or jeopardized ecology: it is also that of a threatened sense of identity. 

Robin Crozier

Food waste from wedding banquets

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In wedding banquets, 1/4 of food ordered is being wasted

The Chinese character “囍” literally means ‘double happiness’. It is commonly written in red for wedding decorations.

If you have Chinese friends, you must have been invited at least once to a big feast – yes, they love to make friends at the dining table. However, you might be surprised by the amount of food they ordered for you. It’s enormous. Perhaps, it is so deeply-rooted in the Chinese culture that, the only way to treat their guests well, is to order more than they need. No wonder in Chinese wedding banquets, it is estimated that almost 1/4 of food is being wasted.

Campaign summary

A green initiative in Hong Kong -The Leftovers- started to collect leftover food from wedding banquets and redistribute them to people in need. To turn the leftover habit in traditional Chinese culture –having leftovers in banquets show that you have treated your guests well- upside down, the organization took the initiative to invite banquet hosts to contact them and collect the leftover food. Fruits that are not consumed will be made into jams while cooked food will be distributed directly to the homeless.

Objective

The campaign has 2 aims:

  1. To collect leftover food and redistribute to those in need.
  2. To raise the awareness of the public about over-consumption has caused a serious food waste problem.

The Characters

The campaign was initiated by a group of university students. 6-7 students formed the core members of the group. They promoted their campaign on Facebook and called for volunteers in ad-hoc events. Up to this moment, they have 100 voluntary members.

Outcomes

The campaign has been a great success. Many couples found The Leftovers team on the Internet and contacted them. On average, the Team collects food from banquets 3-4 times a week. During those ‘good days’ for marriage (according to the Chinese calendar), the team received 6 calls for food collection during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival in September, which is a day for family reunion.

The End of Story?

The Leftovers team realized that collect leftover food is not a sustainable solution. They extended their actions to school education. They collaborated with schools to give talks and workshops to students in order to advocate the concept of a good consumption habit to the young ones.

Commentary

The campaign was triggered based on the local context. It is particularly tackling the consumption habit of the Chinese. It is true that there are a lot of unsustainable habits in the Chinese culture, for instance the consumption of shark fins and meat (which was only affordable for rich people in the past). The campaign is a good initiative to question the Chinese tradition and initiate a fundamental change in our eating habit. How about you? How much food do you waste every day? Do you order more than you need when you eat out? Or do you simply left the side dishes untouched? Perhaps, we should all reflect on our eating habit, and minimize food waste from each meal.