Shelton motivates Stephen Colbert to make a sustainable choice

Shelton motivates Stephen Colbert to make a sustainable choice

If you read our blog much you know that we’re constantly in the field researching mainstream consumers, probing to find out how they think and what they believe about energy and the environment.  But we don’t do that just because it’s fun to know what makes people tick.  We do it so we can use that insight as the foundation for compelling, impactful advertising that actually works.

And it’s tricky.  Human beings are emotional creatures, so though we know a lot of stats and facts about what drives them, a regurgitation of those facts in an ad is a turnoff for most folks.  Instead, we have to use the facts to lead us to insight…which  opens the door for us to touch the deeper emotional buttons that drive the audience we’re targeting.

Stephen Colbert, of all people, recently illustrated this magic trick well, using our data.  He refers to a Snapshot graphic USA Today did on one of our Eco Pulse questions, “What would you give up if you knew it was harming the environment.”  Now, the facts stemming from this question are that most folks wouldn’t give up much.  Only 7% would give up their car and only 42% –the biggest number we saw — would give up their ipods.  The insight here is that Americans don’t want to be inconvenienced to save the planet.  But rather than reporting that “Americans are selfish,” Colbert takes it the next step and makes a funny bit of it:

The moral of the story here:  don’t come at people with straight facts and data.  Use survey data to simply understand where people are, and then touch their deeper emotions to actually motivate them to action.  Humor is an excellent way to do that.  While Colbert’s not trying to sell anything to anyone here, it’s a great example of how to turn facts into something funny that cuts through.  And, forgive the additional bit of self-promotion, for an example of how to take that same approach with your advertising, reference our Avoid Bad Bill Reaction campaign for Vectren.  Happy creating!

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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