In a past blog, we discussed how many very progressive brands are still not using their sports marketing platforms to share their environmental values, instead burying them in the annual sustainability report.

But maybe we should take a step back first, and look at sustainability messaging in general, before we dive into embedding it into any specific marketing medium.

Because frankly, sustainability messaging has typically sucked.

No, really. It has literally been about as enthralling as being asked to turn off the lights when you leave the room.


Many environmental ads in particular have worked from the premise that you simply need to educate folks and they’ll change their behavior. “If they only understood the consequences, they’d do the right thing!”. But to educate someone, you need their attention first.

And in the era of unlimited data packages and fidget-spinners, that’s a challenge.

So what needs to happen here?

In our overflowing-with-bad-news days, we could all use a little lift. So here are a few tips for making your environmental and social campaigns a little catchier.






You catch more flies with honey than vinegar (though according to a lot of amateurs on the web hasn’t proven to be true). What IS true is that people gravitate to positive people, vibrant colors and upbeat music. So if you want to capture their initial attention so you can share your message, be sure you’re getting off on the right foot. Fairy tales don’t open the story in the deep, dark forest.



The Philadelphia Eagles get a little cheeky at Lincoln Financial Field


An analog of the above. Has anyone ever said ‘I absolutely cannot use a laugh right now’?  (Seriously? Try to spend less time with that friend – they’re bringing you down, man.) A laugh will always put you in the ‘W’ column. And when the Ws accumulate, you have a winning record.



We have all – sadly – lost our ability to process the written word (yes, even you. Admit it – your eyes went to the images in this post first and more than once since you started reading it). That’s okay. We were built to process visually in the first place. Visuals evoke feelings. Visuals stay with us. So work with that.



Credit: World Wildlife Fund

If I can see myself in your story, then I could potentially be the protagonist of the story. While I admire Jane Goodall, I can’t see myself becoming Jane Goodall. But I’m probably not as connected / affected as you’d like. But if I see some way to be a hero….well, who doesn’t want that? Which

brings me to my next point.



This is a corollary of Relatable.

Connect the dots for me as to how my individual action fuels a larger impact – and try to be as proximate as possible, i.e. show me where I am the link in the chain, show me how the chain lifts the  ship’s anchor, then show me the ship sailing off into the world.   Whew…that’s an awkward metaphor.  You’ll do better, I’m sure.

But seriously, if you want me to conserve energy at my house, show me (visually) how my small action makes a difference in my community, my country and then the world (in that order). Once you’ve gotten my attention by being funny, that is.


Make a Clear, Reasonable Ask

To close the sale, finish with a solid ask. Preferably one within reach of your customer.

Have you noticed how foundations went from asking for donations to asking for more specific dollar amounts related those to actual items? (Buy someone a goat!) Voila, hella goats.

We have 37 media streams coming at us everyday.  We’re getting plenty of asks (Buy me! Like Me! Share Me! And of course, Save the Whales!)

If your message has managed to do all of the above, then Holy Moses, close the sale with a clear, preferably immediate, action-oriented ask. By immediate, I suggest you leverage those unlimited data packages and ‘empower’ me through my cellphone. You know THAT’S within reach..


‘Wow. Great.’ You say. How am I supposed to do all that? Well, as it happens, I brought along a little example that totally fits the bill (not to mention the title of this post).

Shout out to the Lonely Whale Foundation / Carla Sparks


And since I’ve gotten your attention and made you laugh, here’s my ask:  STOP SUCKING!    (yes, click on it)

We’d love to hear your comments on this post. If you’ve got a great example(s) to share, please do.

And if you feel your messaging can use a kick in the pants, give me a call. I live for this stuff.


  • Aileen


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