A successful social marketing campaign utilizes carefully constructed wording and visuals to appeal to the general population and encourage constructive thought that ultimately creates change through large scale behavioral shifts. A delicate balance exists between relaying over-simplified messages, employing fear-mongering tactics that can backfire or lead to the boomerang effect and creating sensationalized or over-emotional appeals. Crafting more successful campaigns necessitates studying the target audience and considering what defining beliefs may characterize a group that would shape the way they would respond to various forms of media messages. In movies like “The Day After Tomorrow,” a grim picture of the future increased anxiety levels among viewers but failed to create any lasting behavioral change because the movie presented no actual solutions and people felt that the problem was too massive for them to tackle as an individual. (Trailer Shown Here: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi2826045209) Additionally, the sensationalized nature of the movie harmed its credibility as a reliable source of information about climate change and how to best combat it, especially on a small scale. Social marketing campaigns should provide a concise explanation of the problem at hand and why it should matter to the audience and target a specific, convenient behavior that people can easily incorporate into daily life. An example of a successful social marketing campaign displayed a jellyfish in the ocean next to a plastic bag to show how similarly they appear underwater and drove the message home with the words “You see the difference. A turtle does not.” (pictured below) This is effective because it shows viewers just how similarly the two look underwater, proving that if they struggle to make the distinction, turtles do too and may easily and mistakenly ingest a bag. This stark realization may encourage people to invest in reusable bags at the grocery store because eliminating plastic bags from regular habits is a small change that can make a large and evident impact. Exaggerating and fear mongering poses its own set of troubles as it creates distrust among the general population which is already suspicious of information distributed by the government as noted by both professors in the talk.
In the workshop, my group addressed how to decrease reliance on single-use water bottles considering the impact that the micro-plastics have on the marine environment, marine life, and ultimately, our food. As larger pieces of plastic break down, the toxic chemicals move up the food chain into our seafood to harm our internal organs and increase our risk of developing diseases such as cancer. We chose to provide visual demonstrations and palatable information that help people understand how the issue is directly relevant to their lives. A huge percentage of the demographic visiting the turtle hospital travel from elsewhere in the world, so an important point to emphasize would be that even plastic coming from faraway nations can impact the ocean and the sea life within it. Another key point of emphasis is the fact that large scale change cannot exist without smaller scale efforts. Other campaigns developed in the workshop were effective because they targeted a single behavior to reduce within a specified time frame. In order to ensure the effectiveness of each effort, developers must also be willing to adapt to the public’s response in order to ultimately convey the greatest message of all: that humans are harming the environment on a daily basis in small but impactful ways that can be prevented or greatly reduced.