How I connected with Tom Hanks’ Electric City

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How I connected with Tom Hanks’ Electric City

“Devices That Suck (Power).”

That was the title of an article on Yahoo’s home page a few weeks ago, and below the title was the following blurb: “We live for gadgets. But even the smallest ones can consume an enormous amount of power. See some of the worst offenders.” Working for an ad agency that knows a thing or two about energy conservation, I was curious to see what they had to say. So I clicked the link.

Unfortunately, the article itself was quite underwhelming. There were no new insights, and the tips for saving energy were no-brainers. About the only thing the article had to offer was a collection of links to other sites with more in-depth information. All in all, it was pretty much a waste of time, except …

It really wasn’t an article at all. It was an ad for a new web series – Tom Hanks’ Electric City – disguised as an article with a link to the first webisode. So while the content of the “article” was stale and uninspiring, I found its placement and purpose intriguing. Truth be told, I ended up watching the first webisode and several others.

So it worked. They got me – and that got me thinking. In a world where content is king, the line between information and entertainment is gone. How would you categorize The Daily Show? How about Pinterest? LG created a soap opera campaign called “The Young and the Connected” that dramatically extolled the virtues of their smart phone. Advertising has always been about engagement, but it’s more important now than ever. Deep messages and education take a back seat to connected entertainment.

People in the sustainability space frequently tell us that if they could only educate consumers, then their job would be done. But we know that is simply not the case. Most consumers aren’t even going to hear your proof points – let alone care about them – if they’re not engaged. It’s all about making a connection. You have to let them know that you get them. Show them that you have a shared experience. Help them acquire a feeling of ownership. You want them nodding their heads before hitting them with benefits and selling points. Once you have engaged them and piqued their curiosity, they will be more open to listening to what you have to say.

About the Author

Brian Kelley

Brian is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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