Don’t ever bore me. Make me laugh instead.
In yesterday’s lecture someone brought up the subject of “guilty conscience” again. I personally believe some marketers are using ineffective emotional appeals to market sustainable products – they make people feel guilty. As we saw in our lecture on sustainability communications last week, playful, entertaining and informative messages will yield better results when it comes to sustainability.
Yes, indeed – making us feel guilty about our lifestyle won’t work. Instead we’ll probably stop reading your message. We consumers want to hear extraordinary and funny stories, we want to be part of the story and feel empowered and be the heroes. Rainforest Alliance’s follow the frog viral video is one example of where a message is delivered in a very funny, entertaining and informative way – have a look at this funny video:
Now, I want to share my comments on Rainforest Alliance’s follow the frog viral video.
AIDA: attention, interest, desire, action
First, as you might have noticed, from the very beginning the story tries to gain the audience’s attention by focusing on the second person “you”. It’s personal and thus effective as it relates to the audience’s own lives. It’s quite likely that many “LOHAS” will identify themselves with the guy in the video. In many ways, this guy is ordinary, and that’s why it’s so easy to relate to him. Like most of us, he’s just a regular guy with good and bad habits. He has a family and job. He’s concerned about environmental issues like the destruction of the rainforests and feels he needs to do something about it.
Second, with great cautious the story attempts to show the audience that there’s a problem – It reminds the audience that they have a role to play in sustainable development, but they’re doing nothing about it. Here, the message plays on the audience’s guilty conscience, but it manages slip away almost unnoticed. It then takes the audience on a journey – surprisingly the guy in the video gives up everything to go and protect the rainforest. And this is exactly the kind of crazy thing some “LOHAS” want to do. But, of course, this never materializes.
Third, the story presents a solution and call for action: you don’t have to give up your comfortable life and travel to the ends of the earth to save our planet. An effective call to action is created using the imperative (command) verb “follow”. Follow the frog – a clear and simple request for action: In your everyday shopping, buy (again imperative) Rainforest Alliance Certified products if you want to help preserve our environment. The underlying message of the story is: salve your conscience by buying, consuming Rainforest Alliance certified products – it’s sort of you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
Isn’t it funny? – sure I’m sharing it.
Many might think it was really clever of Rainforest Alliance to use a viral video advertising. It’s unpaid (eWOM) and a reliable source of information for helping consumers make buying decisions. Besides, it seems Rainforest Alliance had a clear target in mind: students, celebrities and other “LOHAS.”
But, entertaining, surprising, taking the audience on a journey was the secret and based on Rainforest Alliance’s blog, it worked: “Celebrities Asked Their Friends and Fans to Follow the Frog”. Yes, usually when most people watch funny videos the first reaction is they want to share it with others. Actually, a research on viral video and video sharing conducted by Dr. Karen Nelson gives evidence on this subject. According to her study “emotions drive shares”… she found that highly arousing videos that elicit positive emotions are shared the most” (McNeal, 2012, p.12).
Indeed, in many situations, emotions have the power to motivate people to respond. Rainforest Alliance seems to know its audience’s needs and concerns and chooses an effective emotional appeal that creates a positive response to their message. They know their target and sort of try to speak the same language.
Some casual people might see Rainforest Alliance’s follow the frog video as just funny. Other people might see it as ecologically useful, giving benefits to consumers and the environment while others might see it as supporting more consumption. As a student, worker and consumer, I see it as a way to learn – and the video really made me laugh:)
Celebrities Asked Their Friends and Fans to Follow the Frog. (http://rafrogblogus.wordpress.com/category/follow-the-frog-week/
Marguerite, M. (2012, p.12). The secret to viral success. Marketing Research, p.10-15.
Very interesting Interview with Dr. Karen Nelson