Has someone told you to stop sucking recently? That may be my fault, but it’s not what you think! I simply want you to think twice about that plastic garnish in your drink.
Between eight and 12 million metric tons of plastic enter our ocean each year and future projections suggest this number will only continue to grow. Plastic pollution in our oceans is on a disastrous growth trajectory. With an estimated 25,000 ocean health organisations fighting for a healthy marine environment, why does the health of our ocean keep getting worse?
I have a theory. It’s that we – the members of the ocean consevation community – are making it too hard for the average person to understand what is wrong with the ocean, why it matters to take action today, and what the solutions are to improve ocean health. Below are the changes I believe need to happen if we together, are to improve ocean health.
Change #1: Challenge beliefs about the state of the ocean
The ocean has been sold to us as a place to retreat and rejuvenate. Therefore, when we look at the ocean, we don’t think about the destruction lurking below the surface, or the role we have played in its health. We currently fail to consider the myriad of roles the ocean plays as a global economic and human health support system. For example, the ocean feeds nearly one billion people annually and plays a critical role as a CO2 sink. So, how do we change our perspective on the ocean? Recently Lonely Whale decided to wake people up with a sucker punch. We thought it worked, and so did AdCouncil.
Change #2: Communicate like a leading brand
The Harvard Business Review have found simplicity and trustworthiness are the two key factors in creating consumer “stickiness.” Admittedly, selling the ocean to the mass markets with the goal of inspiring consumer-driven activism is a challenge, but by following the example of leading global brands, we’ve sought to develop a marketing campaign that is simple, fun, and personal. We wanted to see if it may result in “consumer stickiness” for the ocean.
We needed to facilitate an easy decision-making process, so we started by creating one simple message that could reach and resonate with people, provide a tangible solution, and bond individuals to the ocean. We already knew that plastic pollution was beginning to resonate with consumers, but plastic pollution is a complex problem. In order to make our message as simple as possible, we had to focus on a plastic item that connected all of us. That’s why we decided to challenge people to #StopSucking.
Leveraging the simplicity of the straw, we posed a simple question: “Will you #stopsucking on plastic straws to save the ocean from plastic pollution?” Our simple and accessible challenge to refuse plastic straws allowed consumers to have ownership over their ocean impact by establishing a direct connection to its health.
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