10:10’s ad that blew up in their face

Finally got round to seeing the banned 10:10 ad (10:10 being an organisation that encourages people and businesses to cut their carbon output by 10%).  It features a number of ‘real life’ scenes where people (school kids, office workers) are asked to commit to actions that will reduce their carbon footprint. Those that don’t, get blown up with blood-splattering effect. (It’s fairly gruesome, so don’t watch if you think you’ll get upset)

It was written by Richard Curtis and features a bevy of stars, so on paper, it was an easy thing to say ‘yes’ to.  Which is what I suspect happened.

Is it right or wrong though?  Should it have been banned?  It depends on what they were trying to do. If they subscribe to the ‘shock-charity-ad’ school of thought (e.g. babies shooting-up for Barnardo’s) then they’re right on the money.  It got banned and got loads of PR.  Well done.

But was this the right approach?  I doubt it.  I would have thought that they’re objective was to encourage people to change their behaviour and reduce their carbon footprint.  But the ad isn’t really about that.  It’s about people getting blown up and that’s what it will be remember it for.  (In comparison,  the shock in the Barnardo’s ad is directly linked to what the Barnardo’s are campaigning for – protecting children from a less than ideal future).

Again, it’s the thing I keep coming back to – that the Climate Change movement are framing themselves as the heroes (in the ad they all live) and those that don’t subscribe to their point of view as the villains (they literally die).  That is such a poor approach to get people to change – it basically says ‘you’re an idiot and deserve to die if don’t do what I say’.  Okay, the ad might just be able to get away with it if it was laced with black humour, but it’s not. It has no charm.  For those that aren’t buying the Climate Change argument, telling them that they’re stupid is only going to harden their point of view because they already disagree with you.

I think what you need to do is take the time to understand why people aren’t acting in a more sustainable way and work out what you need to say to encourage them to do so.  And what you come up with has to have a clear benefit above and beyond the current action that you are wanting to change.  My suspicion is that those who aren’t currently motivated to change by an environmental message will not be convinced by a environmentally-led message.  The Climate Change movement have run out of road on that one.  So, you’ll need to be more creative in the approach.  It’s back to the VW Fun Factory (on a previous post) for short-term tactical actions, but for more durable behaviour change it’s into the realms of social engineering like the 4-day week.

Whether they thought about any of this before they made the ad, who knows.  But it must have good fun at the shoot!

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