The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When You Are Stuck In A Corner …
March 25, 2011, 6:26 am
Filed under: Comment

So on Saturday it’s Earth Hour.

In a very short period of time, it’s become an established ‘event’ and given the tragic situation going on in Japan at the moment, it’s possibly going to be even more relevant this year than before.

But is it actually doing anything?

I don’t want to piss on it because any positive effect is a good effect, but my issue is that awareness isn’t the problem, it’s sustained behavioural change that’s needed and getting people to switch stuff off for a single hour a year just isn’t creating the cultural shift that’s needed on a long-term level.

What’s the answer?

Well that’s where I’m a fucking ass because I haven’t got one, but with no significant slow down of environmental change and an ever-increasing demand for various forms of energy, something drastic is going to have to happen because if people think they are making a major difference by turning their lights off for 60 minutes – out of a possible 525,000 plus minutes per year – then they are seriously deluded.

As I said, I don’t want to totally piss on it because [1] it’s made a statement and [2] it was allegedly created by an ad agency however as I’ve always contended, awareness doesn’t count for much if it doesn’t motivate the change in behaviour that’s called on which is why in an effectiveness award, I’d be more inclined to say it failed than passed.

Am I harsh?

Maybe … but the issue I’ve had with adland is that they are far too happy just ‘advertising the problem’ when what we should be doing – if only to justify our fees’ – is to try and ‘change the outcome’.

Now of course that is much harder to do, but I know there are a bunch of awesome brains in this industry who could/do come up with stuff that can genuinely create change rather than just create ads however until we stop going for the path of least resistance [or should I say easier fee justification, even though my approach is actually more profitable because you can charge a royalty for the idea as well as the usual fees to make the communication that promotes the idea] we will continue to be viewed as the cockroaches of commerce, and that bothers me a lot because done correctly, we can make a much bigger difference to people and society than many other industries.

But back to the point.

I think the people at Earth Hour have come to the same conclusion as me that to make a major difference, they need to make people change their attitudes longterm, not just their house lighting for one hour.

And why do I think that, because this is their new ‘logo’ …

Yep, they’ve added a fucking ‘+’ sign.


Oh yes, that’ll do it … global attitudinal change all by adding a simple symbol.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that completely and utterly undermines their cred.

It’s lazy, cheap and fails to credit the global population with any sense of intelligence.

The thing is, they could have done it differently.

They’re called EARTH HOUR, not ANNUAL EARTH HOUR so they could simply have created more events throughout the year to encourage a longer-term change in attitude and behaviour.

OK, so the cost of promoting that might be high, but there are other ways from consecutive Earth Hour’s – say 8pm, 9pm, 10pm – to simply making 8pm every Saturday a ‘lights out’ period, but to be honest there are a whole bunch of other methods that are way more likely to instigate change than putting a ‘+ sign’ on a fucking ad.

While any change is positive, we should always be focused on trying to achieve the ultimate goal and if we’re satisfied by simply raising awareness [though there are occasions when that is all that is needed, but certainly not as often as that ‘rationale’ is used by certain agencies and companies] or a momentary change of behaviour, then I think we’re selling ourselves short and not showing how brilliant – and collaborative – we can be.

57 Comments so far
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our girth hour was much fucking better and we all got fucking good hangovers by the end of it. whats fucking bothering me is that i am nodding to a lot of the shit youre spouting and that means im either tired, drunk or having another one of those episodes that tipped #2 over the fucking edge.

your earth hour ideas are fucking pants campbell but for some reason i know what the fuck youre trying to say but even if i pay a good quack to wipe that horrible realisation from my fucking mind, your issue with their “+” sign and the reasons you think theyre doing it are bang fucking on and probably was suggested by their ad agency because theyre the biggest purveyors of going for the lazy fucking option every fucking time in business.

so yesterday we had the end of your life, earlier in the week we had the end of every other fuckers life and today we have the end of the fucking world. im no fucking planner, but i spot a trend, is satan calling in his fucking loan or something campbell?

Comment by andy@cynic

You should sell yourself as a trend research specialist … seriously, that’s better than most of the fuckers come up with.

Comment by Rob

I turn my lights out for 8 hours every night. What’s the big deal.

Comment by Billy Whizz

8 hours? fucking 18 hours more like.

Comment by andy@cynic

I shouldn’t admit this, but your comment made me laugh Billy. You can now die in peace, safe in the knowledge you achieved a goal no one thought you could ever pull off.

Comment by Rob

Surprised the + sign hasn’t scared you Billy.

Comment by DH

If you think I’m going to contribute to my own roasting you can fuck off.

Comment by Billy Whizz

give me a minute dave and ill help you out.

Comment by andy@cynic

whys that dave?

Comment by billy whizz jnr

Because whenever you get an invitation to a party and it says “+ 1” you panic.

Comment by DH

Well that worked well. Except it didn’t.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Thanks for the help jnr.

Comment by DH

i went to all that fucking effort for that shit? its not even funny. i should sue you for wasting my fucking time. pull yourself together dave, thats the sort of unfunny shit id expect from some nerd planning twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

It was so much funnier in my head.

Comment by DH

you have the same fucking issue with how smart you are too.

Comment by andy@cynic

Apparently so.

Comment by DH

What’s that noise?

Oh yes, it’s the bottom of the barrel that Dave’s just scraped!

Comment by Rob

I am a big fan of earth hour but I think the points you raise are valid. It’s as if the guys who came up with the original idea and name didn’t think it would be so successful. I disagree that it isn’t having an effect. Getting people around the World to change their behaviour, even if it’s for just 60 minutes, is a major achievement but I agree the real benefits will come when it is done on the same scale for much longer periods.

And the + addition to the visual is horrible.

Comment by Pete

look at pete angling for a fucking scrap. this should be good, 2 planners battling it out with handbags.

Comment by andy@cynic

so let me get this right. youre saying because millions of people turn their lights off for an hour in the year when they normally let the bulbs blaze on, its a sign the campaign is effective. guess you could say that but if the fuckers are still fucking up the planet pre and post that hour is that doing any one any fucking good. fuck me im agreeing with campbell, promoting a problem not creating a fucking answer. this is my idea of fucked up shit. forced in a corner to decide between one planning fuckface or another. you ganged up on me you bitches.

Comment by andy@cynic

60 minutes is better than 0 minutes.

Comment by Pete

careful pete thats the sort of shit the agency networks spout.

“86.7% awareness is better than zero awareness and im sure the fuckers will start buying your shit someday. but even if they dont, look at those awareness figures, theyre fucking magic.”

i like the idea of earth hour but i think thats the fucking problem, lots of people like the idea of it, they just dont like the long term fucking implications of it. problem with most people is they all want to feel good but without having to actually fucking do much work for it.

now thats fucking insight.

Comment by andy@cynic

Your insight sounds fairly similar to Robert’s view.

It is hard to criticise Earth Hour because the intentions are honorable, however I feel Robert’s comments are not aiming to undermine the project, but to simply question its ability to affect longer term change and as I read it, I feel they are valid points. I hope that next year they find a way to make it happen other than simply adding a + to the communication.

Comment by George

of course it fucking does, he copied it off me in the first fucking place.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m not saying Earth Hour is bad Pete … I’m just questioning whether it’s goal should be to get people to turn off the lights for an hour per year or whether it’s to find a way to encourage long term change of behaviour. If the former – then they have done a brilliant job – however if that latter, it’s been a disaster because the figures are showing the World is getting worse rather than better and yet awareness of the situation [further driven by the effects of recent natural disasters] is higher than it’s ever been.

My problem is that too many people go for the easy option [or should I say ‘easier’ option] when the real thing that needs to be addressed is much deeper and difficult and while that immediately means the chances of success – or the issues you need to contend with – are much more complex, if we don’t do this, we are undermining our ability and credibility.

Comment by Rob

Connect the behaviour to a gain and you get change. But if there’s no obvious and immediate benefit for the participants, then you’re doomed to be stuck with getting them to make gestures.

Comment by john

Good point John … though one of the major issues is that we now live in a society where too many people only view/evaluate ‘benefit’ by how it directly affects them and their personal situation and so if the benefits are more for the good of ‘mankind’, they view it as irrelevant. It’s a bigger issue, but it’s a major issue.

Comment by Rob

Have we all seen the ad that Leo Burnett did for Earth Hour in Oz?

Really, straight up peer pressure? That’s the best you guys could do? Yeah, grudgingly doing something because apparently that’s what everyone else is doing – that’s a good way to enact a long-term attitude change.

As unpopular as it sounds, the best way I can think of to make people actually change behaviour is to combine a program of education on how to save energy (on a day-to-day basis – not sitting in the dark for an hour), with making electricity a shitload more expensive.

Combine people’s somewhat irrational aversion to loss, with tools to do something about it, and it might just change things.

I’m well aware of the fact that no government is willing to actually do this, because of the backlash they’d face, but that’s an executional problem.

Comment by Felix

There is another way – a way the Chinese Government are doing – which is to invest billions into green tech so that even if the people’s attitudes don’t change, they can still affect change.

China is already the #1 green tech developing country in the World however the reason they are doing it is not because they are environmentally friendly, but because they know that in 10 years or so, he who has the power, has the power… and while the US Senate can’t even pass a law to get the Kyoto Protocol through, the Chinese Government are investing US$100 BILLION over the next 10 years to be the new King of Energy.

Comment by Rob

oh fuck, this is going serious again. what the fuck is wrong with you people, this is campbells blog, he doesnt do serious shit. he doesnt do shit period.

Comment by andy@cynic

Don’t worry Andy, they’re being serious despite me.

Comment by Rob

It’s easy to get people to rally around a cause for an hour a year and lets not forget people have all sorts of motivation to participate, but changing actual behavior, all across the globe is a tough one. Half the world was deprived on energy till a few years ago, and it’s gonna be hard to convince them that they out to spend it wisely, for their own good.
I think earth hour should try and identify a core constituency that believes in it’s cause [like actually believes in it] and grow / use that constituency to their cause. Because, in it’s current form, for tons of people, earth hour + looses relevance on Sunday.
It’s a realy tough one.

Comment by bhaskar

It is a tough one because as I said in the post, ultimately what they are trying to do is good but I do think they’ve gone for awareness, rather than addressing the bigger issue and it bothers me that [1] people will hold it up as an effective campaign when that is very open to debate and [2] anyone that questions its effectiveness, is viewed as a bastard when it’s anything but.

Still, all credit to them for doing it and making lots of people take part – but solving the underlying issue would be a much better ad for what adland can do, certainly compared to adding a poxy + sign.

Comment by Rob

i never thought i would have said this, but i like that moths ad. fear actually fucking works in australia because we’re a nation of insecure self-seeking moths anyway.

but, i’m totally with you rob – i think earth hour could really go further. really start to fucking ramp things up with energy usage and pressuring companies, large and small to instigate change. not just a heart ‘tick’ of approval, but a big fucking cultural anathema to avoid.

of course, it also hasn’t escaped me that advertising and trading in commercial desire helps contribute to the energetic mess we’re in. you think manufacturing and global logistics isn’t responsible for a nice chunk of our energy consumption? when i rule the world, it will be supply chain hour and it will be the most unsexy thing since you’ve seen since george w bush in his underwear 😀

Comment by lauren

This explains why you’re a better planner than most planners – though with moths and Jeff Buckley, your creative judgement might be in need of some nurturing. 😉

Comment by Rob

i’ll let andy respond to this one – something about planners not being creative anyway. or something. and some kind of reference to queen and creative judgment too.

Comment by lauren

You sound like his wife, but that can’t be true – because you’re Doddsy’s aren’t you.

Comment by Rob

how did you come to that conclusion? there was no mention of canada, building a superfine house or being fucking hot in any of that…

and yes, i’m doddsy’s bitch.

Comment by lauren

He doesn’t mention that stuff to his wife, because he knows she’d karate chop him in the throat.

Comment by Rob

Every second that we are alive it is because of the ‘earth’ and to show our gratitude all she gets is ONE hour.
I may be the only one but I think campaigns such as these which do not really attempt attitudinal change only help us ease our guilt…it really bugs me.
The reason we have come to the face such grave dangers is because man is fairly short sighted – we haven’t really built a sustainable civilization and we aren’t building sustainable campaigns to change things either.

Comment by swati

Earth Hour is the valentines day of mother nature.

Comment by Rob

I find things like Earth Hour highly disturbing. So much of the language around environmental issues is about ‘saving the earth’. The Earth is fine, it was fine before us, it will be fine after, we’rea transient blip, nothing more, nothing less.
The Earth does not need saving, we do

Comment by northern

Good point Northern, and it’ll take a damn sight more than an hour to do it. BTW, the A[P]SOTW assignment [] pre-write inspired one of my guys to do something awesome so thank you for that – awesome project too.

Comment by Rob

Hopefully it was something better than spell properly

Comment by northern

I think the moths ad is bollocks. A sticking plaster at best.

Get people to realise what energy shortages would mean for them/wrap it in emotion, and it’d go a damn sight further.

Good morning.

Comment by Will

I still think what needs to be done won’t happen with an ad … at least not on a scale that’s required to truly make a difference.

This is why I think the best strategy is the one that has been adopted by the Chinese Govt [] … but that’s not sexy is it.

Comment by Rob

This is about fear.

Comment by Marcus

Yes – but the bad news is, based on what happens after those focused-on 60 minutes, that society isn’t scared enough.

Comment by Rob


Comment by Marcus

how about fuckwit hour where we can smash the shit out of every annoying wanker who has bothered us for the previous 364 days, 23 hours. wont save the earth but itll make us all feel a fuckload better. and guess whod be top of my list campbell? dont worry, it wouldnt be you, id get no fucking satisfaction being able to beat you up with a simple flick of the fucking fingers.

Comment by andy@cynic

Since I don’t condone violence I’d put them in a straightjacket and make them sit through an hour long Mediavest/Edge/com/share presentation.
I had thought about starting with Tom Carroll, but screw that, put it on a big screen and fill a football stadium with anyone who has ever typed LOL

Comment by northern

And of course, the media people would have to sit through their own presentations, the marketing version of Pop with Eat Itself.
Come to think it, I know one or two people who woulkd think they’d gone to heaven if they sat through their own presentation wafflery

Comment by northern

you can say campbell, we all fucking know who youre talking about.

Comment by andy@cynic

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