This blog was originally posted on Identity Campaigning.
The notion of changing the audience rather than the message is at the heart of the ‘identity campaigning’ concept led by WWF. Identity campaigning argues that we shouldn’t accept the basic psychology of our audience – but seek to change it.
This means re-programming people’s values away from consumption, status and selfish desires and towards collective awareness and a closer relationship with our place in the natural world. Actually this drives us bonkers, especially because implicit is the message ‘if only everyone else thought and acted like us everything would be okay’.
That makes our skin crawl a bit, and we know the majority public audience hates environmental worthies suggesting there’s not only something wrong with their footprint: there’s something wrong with their personality.
Unfortunately, Soli, like it or not, the message does, inescapably, change the audience. Every effective politician knows it (Thatcher – “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul”) every marketer knows it (“we shape culture”).
Also unfortunately, today’s dominant messages (to which you do your best to add) change the audience in the wrong way. For example, being bombarded by 5000 advertisements a day – often without any choice in whether or not I see them – changes the way I think, and what I value. This leaves me caring less about other people, and less about our environment. And you’d use the same techniques – further embedding those values – to ‘sell’ green living.
There’s a war about values going on, and you are on the wrong side.