Check out the advertisements above. They were commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation to sell sustainability:
It's not every day that advertising companies are approached for advice on reducing consumer product sales that cost the earth. For an industry that does a wonderful job at stimulating our desire for the latest consumer product, it was a whole new concept. Now you can judge whether the ad industry can also do the hard sell on sustainable living. The advertisers were asked to use their powers of innovation to design a billboard to promote the messages Live More, Spend Less and Living Light is the New Cool.The other two were:
- a picture of the earth as the meat in a hamburger, with the slogan Stop consuming our planet
- a picture of a logged and burned patch of forest with the slogans Buy now pay later and We can't afford the cost of overconsumption
So which, if any, make you feel enthused about Living Light?
To my mind, only one even comes close: the barcode. The others are dismal.
Advertisers are experts at associating a product or cause with things that we want to have or who we want to be. They promise us luxury, contentment, popularity, tranquility, glamour, romance, fun - if we buy their product. I haven’t seen many ads that offer us only guilt. Why is the environment different?
Why are you interested in environmental issues? Because you’re passionate about nature? Because you’ve visited places that are beautiful and think we can make our backyard a little more beautiful too? Because you can envisage a world that’s healthier and fairer and feel good about trying to give the world a little bump in that direction? Or because you want to ease some of your guilt about existing and eating and breathing and buying nice clothes? I don’t know anyone who does it for the last reason.
Have you ever seen an ad for Diet Coke that says "Stop eating sugar you big fat slob"?. Hardly. They show slim active people having fun and imply that’s what we’ll be like if we drink Diet Coke. Manipulative? Maybe. Effective? Certainly.
I applaud ACF’s initiative and these advertisers for having a go. But quite frankly these ads don’t cut it. If we’re going to play the advertising game we need to play it right.