Back in the 1970s, fuel prices skyrocketed and parents all over the United States followed then President Carter’s admonition to reduce energy consumption and slapped round stickers reading “67” on their homes’ thermostats. Thermostat wars ensued when not all family members could tolerate the energy-saving 67 degrees Fahrenheit wintertime home temperature that experts recommended.
Fast forward to today. An organization that dedicated itself to saving the Brazilian rainforests by reducing climate change, SOSRainforests.com created an innovative campaign to encourage consumers to participate in the process of saving the earth’s vulnerable rainforests by cutting down their carbon emissions.
Rather than revisit the thermostat wars of the 70s, SOSRainforests.com took a positive approach to promoting its mission, enlisting the help of all family members or office colleagues in saving energy in order to reduce the family’s or the business’s carbon footprint, thus preserving the rainforests that need fewer carbon emissions worldwide to survive.
The organization created colorful stickers designed to fit around light switches. The stickers, as reported in WebDesignerDepot.com’s May 2010 post, “Creative Uses of Stickers in Advertising,” were sky blue in color with the organization’s logo at the bottom, a sphere wrapped in green and topped with a leaf. The text at the top read, “Would you like to save energy and help to decrease the effects of global warming?” A hole that left room for the switch mechanism itself read “yes” on the top and “no” on the bottom. Turning the light switch to the “off” position indicated a “yes” answer, while leaving the room lights on pointed to the “no” answer. These attractive stickers showcased the organization’s brand presence while they encouraged people to turn off their lights when they left the room.
Their interactive approach worked. Rather than demanding action, these stickers asked for help in saving energy. People who applied these stickers to the light switches in their homes and offices were able to do their small part to save the world simply by switching off the light when they left the room. That’s more than promoting a brand—that kind of advertising creates an opportunity to act.
The award-winning advertising program worked, simply because it invited people to become part of the team—part of a tribe—working to save the earth from the damages wrought by climate change.
Not only did the innovative campaign create more awareness of the need to reduce their carbon footprint, but it also became viral online. Thanks to their promotional campaign, awareness of this organization grew by leaps and bounds. More than 150 blogs reposted the image and text of the stickers. The number of hits on the SOSRainforests.com website increased dramatically.
Most importantly, the stickers inspired a change in behavior on the part of those who participated. Participants downloaded resources from the site to help them discover even more ways to cut down their energy consumption.
As for the Brazilian ad agency, Zoo Propaganda, who created the campaign, their work has been archived in several collections of advertising campaigns judged by experts to be most effective in reaching their target audience.
Creating brand awareness by using stickers—or any other low-cost promotional tool—in a way that encourages people to act as opposed to demanding that they perform the desired action keeps feelings about the organization positive. Unlike the demanding thermostat stickers of yesteryear, a campaign that evokes positive feelings and makes people feel part of something larger than themselves will drive consumers to take action and do so with joy.