Green Printing

Print Advertising That MAKES Us Care.

Can advertising give us an eco-conscience?

Last week, I was talking a lot about people getting 'bored' with environmentalism because of the OD they're getting from an overeager business world hyping a 'green' philosophy that's debatably sincere.

But print advertising isn't naturally the bane of environmentalism. In fact, advertising is probably one of the best mediums we've got for educating and generating enthusiasm about taking a different approach to how we interact with our planet.

After all, if advertising is known for anything, it's known for its ability to persuade. When it comes to environmentalism, the onus is on us to find ways to cut through 'the green fog.' How do we persist in creating communication innovative enough to keep people's eyes and ears open?

Reps from the agency that created the WE campaign for the Alliance for Climate Protection recently discussed this issue on NPR – a conversation well worth checking out as these guys are REALLY looking at the big picture.

Another good discussion of what advertisers can do to promote environmentalism can be found on Speak Up! where Nicole Peterson explores the role of cuteness in persuasive eco-marketing.

Peterson points out that the use of baby animals, and cute cartoons of bugs and trees, in print advertising, generates an emotional connection with the natural world that encourages consumers to care. However, she concludes by saying that the effectiveness of this advertising technique “plays into the very consumerism that is causing environmental destruction.”

This might be true, but there's no reason to give up on the medium because you've been burnt by the message in the past. Sure, advertising has been used to manipulate people in negative ways, but it's potential for good is also powerful. For example, check out this poster print design, created to raise awareness about water pollution.

Groups like WWF and Greenpeace are also a great source of print and video advertising designed to woo you with cuteness, overwhelm you with cleverness, and, at times, shock you with ze horreur:

stop climate change

I'm presenting all this as proof that print advertising can make a positive difference in the fight against environmental devastation. As I said weeks ago in a post on advertising with meaning, this industry is made up of brilliant creative professionals that possess limitless potential to do good.

'Advertisers' are artists, writers, and musicians, so let's see what we can do with all that talent. My guess is that we can do more than just 'make a difference.' We can change the planet!


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