Monday, March 1, 2010

World Wildlife Fund PSA: soft approach can be one more effective tool

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has produced some outstanding radio, print and television PSA's (public service announcements) over the years. These forms of communication often are subtle because they are, by nature, intrusive. Here's a link to one of their most current PSA commercials (click on image):
The imagery is eye-catching and the message is simple (and it borrows from one of my favorite songwriters, Joni Mitchell). Some might argue over the effectiveness of the "soft" approach because with each day ecological and environmental issues become more critical, but it is one piece of a strategy, one weapon in their arsenal of tools to enlighten people.

I was listening to a political commentary show and the panelists were discussing the politics of fear and if and where it can be effective. The consensus was that it can lack effectiveness when addressing big picture/long term issues; it can come off sounding like Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling. People often have difficulty thinking in terms of the big picture and they will tune out or close down to warnings of cataclysmic futures because it is something to which they can't easily relate. It's so dire they would rather hide under a rock and live with the status quo than deal with it.

That's where the softer approach can have value, wedging open the door of long-term thinking just a little - whether its politics or conservation. Immediate and personal issues might require a stronger clarion and together, with messages like the one WWF puts forth in the PSA above, perhaps we can move the audience to react to immediate issues of concern while also expanding their minds to more expansive or greater long-term solutions.

Every little bit helps.

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