Monday, November 14, 2005


Greenpeace is certainly good at making a scene. It make headlines almost every month by giving away golden chainsaws, ramming boats, and, er, damaging coral. There is a lot to be learned here from an advertising perspective. How do you get yourself immediate talk power, top of mind awareness for an issue and massive public relations? Dump five tonnes of coal outside of Tony Blair’s residence. All of a sudden everyone wants to know “WHY?” And Bam! We are off talking about Kyoto, pollution and global warming within no time. If you want to advertise something, it helps if you actually want to get noticed.


At 1:44 p.m., Blogger molesworth said...

So, let's talk about Kyoto, pollution and global warming.

Here's a statistic for you: the UK uses 162 million Btu a year in per capita energy consumption, while Canada uses 418 million Btu (2002). The Canadian figure is higher than the US' 339 million Btu. In terms of greenhouse gases, the average Briton emits 9.4 tonnes of CO2 a year, compared with 18.9 tonnes for a Canadian.

Astonishing isn't it? Canadians use almost three times as much energy as peers in another industrialized nation. OK, Britain is a lot smaller, but that alone can't explain the difference.

Point one: Where's the government advertising? One reason European consumption is so much lower is that the 1970s energy shock was followed by years of government financed advertising to conserve energy. (Another, of course, is that gasoline is taxed massively higher.) Governments in North America have tended to pay lip service to conservation.

The latest energy shock presents a chance to change this -- but we will need more than Rick Mercer going on about his one-tonne challenge, a vague concept that few people associate with the need for concrete action. And change we must: the world simply cannot continue to consume oil and gas at the growth rates of the recent past. Even ignoring the environmental issues, this sort of growth is not sustainable for our children's generation.

Point two: What can you do? Well, you could go out and buy a hybrid. But the sheer size of the North American vehicle fleet means that it will take many years for hybrids to have a significant impact on demand. And remember, a hybrid SUV still uses twice as much fuel as a diesel car.

Here's an easier way to make a difference: go out and buy a programmable thermostat for your home or office. Stop heating your home when you're not there or when you're asleep, there's really no need. (But don't turn it so low that your pipes freeze.) When you are around, turn that thermostat down a couple of degrees. If you're cold, look out the window -- there's snow on the mountains, why are you wearing a t-shirt? Put on a sweater before burning more fuel. Yes, Mike, forget those bamboo shoes, go out and buy a fleece!

At 5:14 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont talk brit thats about you in the picture innit? in canader we use HYDRO power so we can tunr up our heat as we please

At 6:09 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why all the carbon emissions, buddy? And how about all those coal-fired power plants in the province next door?

Anyway, are you sure your gas furnace is fueled by water? You might want to take a closer look.

At 6:55 p.m., Blogger CreativeWonders said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:56 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

in 50 years vancouver will be like hawaii on acount of those emissions - so bring on the ghgs!

At 2:13 p.m., Anonymous highlander said...

Speaking of Brits, anyone know anything about the Serta sheep all over the exhibition on climate change in the Victoria museum? What do mattresses have to do with global warming?

At 2:29 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaken yr fist at Vancouver is no good. We r doing r part here. Maybe u should look @ the facts

At 4:02 p.m., Blogger molesworth said...

No one's shaking fists, just saying we shouldn't be complacent.

Oil and gas account for around 80% of BC's energy consumption -- electricity (hydro) for 20%.

Greenhouse gas emissions in BC rose from 51 million tons in 1990 to 63 million tons in 1999, an increase of 24%. Kyoto calls for a 6% reduction from 1990 levels.

Still sure you don't need that thermostat?

At 4:43 p.m., Blogger CreativeWonders said...

I suppose it’s time for me to jump into this madness. Btw –we can't have any swearing on this blog – sorry.

Population of British Columbia in 1990 – 26 million
Population in 1999 – 30 million

This just might have something to do with it. I don’t think BC is the problem, I like to blame the other provinces myself.

But Rick who?

I don’t have a lot of faith in the one tonne challenge – it is one of the most complicated things I have ever seen, and it really needs to be communicated more effectively.

I don’t know anyone outside of the socially conscious world that knows anything about it, and this really defeats the whole point. I notice a lot of sustainable companies have a hard time communicating with the rest of the population. It isn’t easy to reach people with a 4 second attention span and an insatiable desire to feed immediately and be continuously entertained.

Seeing how the Americans are buying out our gas companies, it seems like they should be the ones pushing for reduced carbon emissions – but they aren’t in Kyoto are they?

Now this is a dark thought, but, for the sake of argument, one has to wonder if this issue is about ‘saving the world’ is just the Chicken Little Model of consumerism for those fancy hybrid vehicles you speak of, and alternative fuel, and organic food, and sustainable consumerism and all that is “LOHAS” – Does it all exist just to take the economic power away from certain countries? Hmmm

Just playing devil's advocate here, obviously, but it does make for interesting food for thought.

At 1:24 p.m., Blogger molesworth said...

Are you sure there are 30 million people in British Columbia? I thought it was closer to 4 million. I wonder where they are all hiding!

Anyway, this just about brings us full circle. Some of my earlier comments were perhaps provocative, but shouldn't the advertising on this issue aim to provoke? How many Canadians know our emissions are so high? True, it's a symptom of a resource economy -- Australia faces the same issue -- but surely it's a collective challenge. Should the advertising spell that out bluntly, or would it be counterproductive?

As for the One Tonne Challenge, I agree fully with Blogger Mike. It's obscure, connects only with a minority and leaves people wondering what to do. We bought a high-efficiency furnace and insulated our attic. Our gas bill was cut in half and the feds gave us a fat Kyoto grant. But did we meet the one-tonne challenge? There's no way of knowing. What are our emissions now? What does a tonne of carbon dioxide look like? How big is it? The size of a small SUV? There's no measure of achievement.

The Kyoto 2 talks are coming up this month in Montreal. You're in advertising; I was kind of hoping to see some thought on how all this might be tackled better.

Maybe another day.

With that, I'm afraid I really must bow out of this debate. It's been a pleasure.

At 2:12 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...



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