J500 Media and the Environment


Trend Today, Trite Tomorrow by Kelly

I love a good ad slogan.  They’re catchy, creative and stick in your head.  Really good ones actually affect behavior. For instance, I check myself before I wreck myself and  I occasionally enjoy an incredible, edible egg. I’ve also gone green.

I don’t use disposable lunch bags or water bottles, I recycle, I take my own bags to the grocery store and I buy organic fairly often. I even make a special effort at the gym to use those machines that generate their own electricity.

A well-crafted slogan is a great public relations tool and it can do big things for movements like environmentalism. It has the power to raise money, spread awareness and inspire action.  With the help of a good slogan, a movement like environmentalism becomes the crusade du jour.

Unfortunately, there is the inevitable effect of time on trendiness. Once a phrase has lost its momentum it becomes trite and  lifeless, unlikely to surface again except for maybe on a novelty t-shirt. But while the the slogan may have died, the issue is still an issue. And, my apologies to advertisers and wordsmiths worldwide, the issue is what’s really important.

If someone asks me why I buy organic, I’m not going to throw them a slogan and say I’m going green. If someone wants to know why I recycle, I don’t say I give a hoot and don’t pollute. How does that answer their question? That answer is too vague and leaves you sounding uninformed or, worse, insincere.

Instead, I tell them about minimizing waste and pollution. I explain that organic food keeps pesticides out of the ground and out of our bodies. I inform them about the issue. Anything less and you’ll end up like Woodsy Owl,  motivating people to do hardly more than shake their heads and smile at your silliness.

While my love for slogans is strong, my love for the environment is stronger, so I pay attention to what it means to go green. Now, I’m better at recognizing when something is environmentally friendly without the help of  a “go green” label.

Slogans help start a movement, but it’s people that keep it going. If a slogan catches your attention, research the underlying issue. Get educated about a movement or a cause. Save the slogan from itself by turning the trend into a habit, because information will outlive any ad campaign.

K.Cochran

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3 Comments so far
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This seems relevant for people going into advertising. Would you suggest that maybe they, as the advertisers, try and go deeper than just creating a catchy slogan? Or do you think it’s the responsibility of the consumer to research further?
— Ben P.

Comment by Ben Pirotte

That’s interesting to think about because I think the advertiser’s job is to create awareness. Creating a good slogan gets the attention an advertiser is paid to attract. Realistically, I think the responsibility is with the consumer to go further. It’s the individual who knows what questions they have and what’s important to them. An advertiser doesn’t have the resources to start targeting individuals.

K.Cochran

Comment by Kelly

Kelly,

I see your point but I have to say that I don’t quite agree with you. I think you are underestimating the power of some of those slogans and trends.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely know that somethings are a gimmick. And there is a lot of hypocrisy involved in environmental trends. But there have been many slogans that have helped to motivate people in ways that did stick.

Take the “Save the Whales” campaign. Save the Whales was hugely popular when our parents were our age. It died out for a while but is back again. And those words that looked good on t-shirt really did start a worldwide movement.

I know that most environmentalists don’t go around telling people. “give a hoot, don’t pollute,” but I’m sure that most environmentalists got interested in the cause after hearing something like “Save the Rain Forest,” “Green Peace,” “Tree hugger,” “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” or “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Obviously, understanding what the slogan really means is a must. And even though there have been some that were simple gimmicks, or a way to sell t-shirts, there have been many of them that have made lasting impressions.

— Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev




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