It’s not always easy to get people to act in a responsible way. We can cajole, threaten, use logic, emotion, get mad, but it doesn’t seem to work. People are hard to motivate – even when it is in their own best interest. For example, consider litter and trash. Even when it’s easy to dispose of litter, some people still seem to not keep it clean. Garbage gets thrown on the ground, not into cans.
But Malmo, a city in Sweden, has come up with a novel way to encourage people to clean up trash. It incentivizes folks to use the trash can by, well, talking a little bit dirty in a suggestive, female seductive voice.
Yes, you heard that right. By having a trash can talk dirty, people deposit more trash. What type of dirty talk and encouragement? “Oh, right there. Yes!” or let’s try “Come back soon and we’ll do it again!”
It’s a little more for adults, but it appears to be effective. The campaign gets people talking about littering in a fun way.
The city originally had 18 talking trash cans in 2017, but has only two now placed on a busy pedestrian bridge. Put trash in the can. Get positive reinforcement immediately! During the pandemic, the trash cans thanked people for social distancing. Now the cans have been repurposed to reduce trash. What else could they do?
One question though: where are the sexy talking male trash cans?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
Discuss the use of public service announcements to influence behavior.
Poll students: What types of public behavior would they like to see modified?
We commonly think of using marketing principles and practices to promote business and grow revenue. And that’s fine – up to a certain point. However, marketing can be so much more.
We know that marketing is used to grow businesses and organizations. Increased revenue usually leads to new research and development, new products and services, and strong returns for shareholders and stakeholders. Lots of people benefit from this. And that’s good. But it is only part of the story. Marketing can also be used to help society in very powerful ways.
In one example, advertising agency Havas Tel Aviv recently used it powers for good when it partnered with Laisha, a popular women’s magazine in Tel Aviv, to promote a domestic abuse hotline. A study of women in Israel had found that most women were not even aware that a hotline number for domestic abuse even existed. Therefore, for the promotion the agency created a simple cover page for Laisha with the 24/7 helpline phone number in large white letters on a black background. Basically, making it an impossible-to-miss cover. The text stated that women who suffer from domestic violence are not alone – and that the anonymous phone line offers help in all languages.
The result: An increase in calls to the hotline by 500%!
Musicians and artists also are powerful contributors to social programs and awareness. Several years ago rapper Logic recorded the song titled “1-800-273-8255,” directing young people to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. The song chronicled a youth’s journey through depression to a suicide prevention call. The song was nominated for Grammy awards for song of the year and best music video as well as a MTV music video award. But the most stunning result was the increase in calls for help during its release.
The results: 9,915 more calls to the support line were made in the 34-day period after the Grammy and MTV Music Award shows! The song’s impact contributed to an estimated 245 fewer suicides over the same period. That’s powerful!
Consider: Marketing makes a difference in many ways.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
Discuss how marketers can be active with social responsibility and justice.
What skill sets translate from corporations to community service?
Divide students into teams. Have each team select a social issue or a community program that they admire.
Challenge each team to develop a marketing tactic to highlight the ways in with the programs can help people.
Alternatively, have each team research an existing social program and analyze its messaging and tactics (ex: Red Cross, Big Brothers, etc.)
Sources: Ansari, T., (Dec. 15, 2021). Rapper Logic’s song about suicide prevention may have saved hundreds of lives, study says, Wall Street Journal; Griner, D. (Dec. 2, 2021). This magazine cover boosted calls to an abuse hotline by 500%. Ad Week.
The world’s first Earth Day events started in 1970; it was the 51st anniversary this year on April 22nd. Supporting environmental protection activities, Earth Day includes numerous events held around the globe. Last year more than 100 million people participated in what has been called one of the largest mass mobilizations ever! The climate demands our attention.
Many companies are using creative ways to get our focus on Mother Earth this year. Restaurant Panera is recognizing the growing use of biking during the pandemic and how Panera fits in by copying its signature bread bowl shape into a bicycle basket. The bike is olive green and the basket is bread-brown, making it easy to cart around foods and goods. Panera was the first chain to label its food to show carbon footprint as well as nutrition and calorie counts. According to the company “if every Panera customer ordered a Cool Food item on April 22 it would – compared to the average American diet – reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking more than 1,100 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.”
Another Earth Day event was burger chain Carl’s Jr. teaming up with Beyond Meat at one of Carl’s Jr. Los Angeles restaurant. It gave away free plant-based burgers and offered faux meat sandwiches for $5 via an email promotion. Carl’s Jr. already carries a Beyond Meat burger patty and has sold more than 12 million Beyond Meat burgers. The event was intended to draw in younger, flexitarian-diet customers. According to a University of Michigan research study, Beyond Meats “products need 46% less energy, generate 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than a standard beef patty, and have 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use.”