Stick vs. Carrot: an excellent behavior change example

Stick vs. Carrot: an excellent behavior change example

SOPA has been popping up on my Facebook and Google+ feeds for awhile now. But, until now, I had only a vague impression that something bad might be happening. That all changed today when I did a search and found that the ever-present and faithful Wikipedia had gone dark. They linked me to my congressman and I wrote him a note. How’s that for motivating behavior change? I can’t remember the last time I wrote a representative, but today I was not alone. Half the people in my department did the same. As motivated as I was by Wiki’s bold move, I was not feeling genuinely deprived. I can hold off on my “fact-checking” until tomorrow. But when I logged into Craigslist (during my daily search for things I don’t need),  it too, seemed to have gone black. Are you kidding me? This is even a bigger deal than I thought.

Apparently others think so as well: Black bars and censored blocks started showing up in status feeds and the soon-to-be-censored web (we’ll see about that, I guess) was abuzz with chatter.  To be perfectly honest, I am not familiar enough with this piece of legislation to speak authoritatively as to how people should respond, but there is certainly a lesson here with regard to motivating behavior change.

Sometimes it’s good to take away the carrot and let people see what they could be missing. This is not a technique, however, for the faint of heart – there are many potential pitfalls. But if you have a message that you really need to communicate – and your brand health is sufficient for the inherent risks – less may, in fact, mean more.

About the Author

Matt Brass

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing all campaigns and collateral. With nearly two decades of marketing design under his belt, Matt has extensive experience in design, photography and videography, as well as blogging about the latest and greatest (or worst) ad campaigns out there. He leads our team on kayaking trips, too.

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