Hey sustainability, why so serious?

Comedy Rules

One of the biggest no brainers in advertising is that comedy rules. From smart and funny to straight up slapstick nothing stays with consumers like a campaign that gives them a good laugh. Just look at the Super Bowl this year. Have you ever seen so many groin kicks, flying babies and funny dog tricks housed in a short, four-hour span?

There’s a simple reason fun promotions and campaigns dominate the communication landscape. They work. Sure there are many examples of serious campaigns that are effective but comedy has been proven over many years to be the champion of all communication.

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So, here’s the big question.

Why does it seem so taboo to be funny when talking about sustainability? It shouldn’t be. Especially when promoting a sustainable product. If you want to sell your product to a select few tree-huggers out there then a serious message about the end of the world might work (more than likely it won’t). But if you want to sell to the masses (and grow your business) then normal communication rules begin to apply. And what is the number one rule? Comedy is king.

We’ve seen the impact serious sustainability campaigns have had on real behavior change over the last few years and the effects are minimal. That’s because communicators out there have forgotten that although the subject matter at its core is serious, the impact they’re trying to make is still focused on people. Regular people with problems of their own, which trumps the notion of sustainability in their lives. That’s why focusing on the big problem is way too massive for a normal individual to comprehend and sometimes believe.

Communicate small

So, present small chunks that are easily understandable and non-invasive. Present them in a way that’s attention getting and memorable. Have fun with your communications. Remember, every piece of communication you put out there is an engagement with an actual person. It’s a face-to-face conversation. So, you can choose to be the weird kid that nobody likes because he’s always so serious or the kid that has all the friends because he’s fun to be around.

Real behavior change, whether it’s purchasing products or changing habits, will never happen by pointing the finger or presenting overwhelming facts. Change will happen when sustainable actions and products feel normal to the regular consumer. In order get there you have to allow your sustainable product to live in the normal world of communication–which means being willing to lighten up and have a good laugh.

TAKEAWAYS:
  1. There may be a unique set of rules for effective sustainability communication but in the end comedy wins.
  2. Most people can’t (or don’t want to) deal with problems that are too large to grasp.
  3. Give the audience something small that they know they can do.

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