How will sustainable lifestyles become the norm for the human race? Simple – it has to be desirable and even (gasp) enjoyable. We’ve talked a lot on this blog about what happens when you preach, point fingers or try to educate with reams of facts about sustainability. You cause the very people you wish to influence to run for the hills. If we can make the idea of sustainable living interesting, profitable or even fun, attitudes will change – and so will behaviors. As a good example of changing the way we present sustainable lifestyle ideas, take a look at this video from Toyota about an effort to promote eco-driving.
The dangers of driving while watching a water glass aside, this idea is really intriguing. It takes a polarizing issue and turns it into a desirable experience that can have a positive effect on individual driving habits. I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago about how our Wasting Water is Weird campaign focused on delivering a concept that gives the consumer the desire to accept deeper messages and even to be educated. The brilliance of this idea from Toyota comes from the same logic. The initial challenge to keep the water in the glass is simply a creative entry point into deeper information about personal driving habits. Once you’ve taken the fun challenge, you’re compelled to discover your results. Without even knowing it you’ve been educated and have taken your first step to becoming an eco-driver. Ideas like this one from Toyota and the Wasting Water is Weird campaign are the future of messaging around sustainability, because they both do one thing really well: they play by the rules of advertising and sell first, while educating second. That’s the winning formula for communication in the sustainability space that actually works.
So, here’s my advice for businesses or organizations out there looking to promote a sustainability positioning of any size (Jesse Jackson style): Stop telling and start selling.