Fun in the Sun

Can you get more people to throw their garbage in the trash can by making it fun to do? That’s one of the theories being tested by Volkswagen’s Fun Theory:

A similar theory was tested in a fairy tale theme park in the Netherlands, where a talking trash can would say “Thank you” to those who put trash into it’s mouth. Similar to the bottomless trash can in the video above, the area around the talking trash can is kept clean all year long.

So here’s the question of the month: Does incorporating fun and positivity benefit your campaign and encourage behaviour change?

Answer: YES!

New research shows that as humans, we are only really capable of four emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted. In August we’ll be talking about our Press Play Rule: how to make people HAPPY and change their behaviour for the better. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

While there are some topics that have a hard time incorporating humour, the overwhelming majority of social marketing campaigns could benefit from some fun. As you’ll see below, and throughout the topics we talk about this month, topics that are dry, uncomfortable or taboo can all benefit from some positivity and fun.

When it comes to changing environmental behaviours there is a tendency to use negative messaging. Educating people on the dangers of some behaviours and warning them against others for the sake of the future is something we should try and avoid when possible. This messaging can lead to the opposite of the desired effect and leave audiences continuing with the same behaviour.

Emotion is one critical factor that drives sharing.

We see this all the time on social media – funny animal videos that we share with loved ones, inspiring speeches, astonishing extreme sports acts. Ultimately, as social marketers we’re not in the market to make millions off of viral videos on YouTube, but we are in the market for driving behaviour change, and if firing up emotions is one way to do that then we should capitalize on it.

Ultimately, social marketing is about framing your messages in a way that we can nudge people to make better decisions. Presenting these options in a way that seems fun and playful will increase your early adopter uptakes, and encourage people to share the campaign with family and friends.

The Three Amigos campaign is a great example of a public health campaign that took the, at times, uncomfortable topic of practicing safe sex and turn it into an amusing PSA with three talking condoms. Not only is it funny, but it’s effective. Condoms sales in South Africa increased by 22% the year the PSAs were introduced.

Volkswagen inspired people to become more active and take the stairs rather than ride the escalator when they turned this staircase into a musical instrument. Fur Elise anyone??

Have you seen a fun or positive social marketing campaign lately? Let us know in the comments section below 🙂

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