The other day I posted on the idea that "green fatigue" may be an opportunity to communicate better, moving us beyond simplistic green messages and preaching to the converted, and instead arguing for the kind of transformational, systemic and innovative change we need across every economic sector and throughout mainstream culture.
UK Corporations Preach Greener Lifestyle Change
With that post in mind, I'm not quite sure what to make of a UK campaign called Start Today. Created as a coalition of 12 of the UK's leading consumer-facing brands—from EDF Energy through Marks & Spencer supermarkets to Virgin Money—the campaign focuses on the kinds of individual lifestyle changes that the green movement has been pushing for some time, and that have so far failed to catch on.
But what makes this a little different from the usual "stop running the water when you brush your teeth" tidbits is that each brand has picked its own specific "action" it is trying to push, from exploring the world by foot to turning your thermostat down, but they will be promoting them simultaneously with their partners to a broad mainstream audience. Taken together, they add up to a pretty broad, even comprehensive, approach to more sustainable living.
Can Brands Inspire Personal Change?
Whether or not mainstream audiences are ready, or open to, advice on greener living from corporate advertisers remains to be seen. But I should note that this is not just a case of do as I say, not as I do. From Marks & Spencer's comprehensive Plan A sustainability initiative to Virgin sounding the alarm on peak oil, many of these companies have taken a leadership position regarding their own corporate behavior. If they really can use that position to leverage lifestyle changes beyond the traditional green niche audience, then that could prove to be a game changer. So long as they don't fall into the trap of arguing that lifestyle change is enough by itself.
Watch this space. In the meantime, here's a video of Start's green evangelists spreading the word.