BfG News Issue 16 - Expert View: Building a Brand, and a Movement

16 Oct 2008|Added Value

Brian-HardwickWith the launch of the ‘We’ Campaign in early April 2008, the Alliance for Climate Protection kicked off an ambitious project to build a new brand and lead a movement around the issue of climate change.  

The goal of the Alliance, a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort founded by Nobel laureate and Vice President Al Gore, is to build a movement that creates the political will to solve the climate crisis – in part through repowering America with 100 percent of our country’s electricity from clean carbon-free energy sources within 10 years. Meeting this ambitious goal will generate millions of new jobs and cut our energy costs. It’s a solution that is as good for the economy as it is for the environment. 

We are working to build the ‘we’ brand, through a cross-platform approach designed to simultaneously create broad-based awareness and understanding of climate change, as well as drive action by the public to demand real solutions from elected officials. Some of our activities have included:

Advertising in traditional media – At the outset of the campaign, we had to launch the ‘we’ brand and clearly communicate what ‘we’ stands for. Working with our ad agency partners, we produced and aired a series of television and print ads to introduce the ‘we’ brand and tell our story: that climate change is real, that it is urgent, and that it is solvable. In the beginning of the campaign, we used ads featuring well known ‘opposites’ from both sides of the political spectrum to help introduce our brand’s story with a non-partisan tone and manner.

The “Unlikely Alliances” ads (featuring figures such as Reverends Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson in one version, and Speakers of the House Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich in another, talking together about climate change) won the “EthicMark” award at this year’s Green Media Show, for “advertising that uplifts the human spirit and society.”  Once we had established a strong level of awareness and understanding for the ‘We’ brand, we began communicating more details about our solutions, specifically calling for a switch to clean energy. 

Grassroots organizing efforts – In addition to creating broad-based awareness of the ‘we’ brand, the Alliance is also trying to drive specific behaviors.  Some of this comes through working at the grassroots level with individuals and organizations that are aligned with our mission on projects like:

–  We Connect – connecting people with engaged friends and neighbors in their own community, and providing materials and information needed to further the discussion at the local level.

–  Letter Writing Campaigns – organizing thousands of our members to write letters to editors of local and national newspapers, demanding that elected officials address the climate crisis now – a project that reached nearly 800 newspapers.  Also, activating more than 28,000 people to write to US news organizations asking that more questions about the climate crisis be asked of presidential candidates during the debates.

Social Media – We’ve also built a strong presence online through our website, Facebook application, Myspace and YouTube pages, webcasts like this one from late October with Power Vote and the Energy Action Coalition, during which Vice President Gore talked about the goals of the ‘We’ Campaign as part of a broader effort to encourage young people to make the climate a voting priority in the November election.  

Like many marketing programs today, we are using hard, numeric targets in order to measure our success. We are looking at the number of people have joined the ‘We’ Campaign, and tracking (together with Added Value) how we are doing on creating a sense of urgency and solvability around the issue of climate change. But the most important metric of all – the future of our civilization — is ultimately what is driving us, and underscores the tremendous importance of making both sides of the marketing equation work: building a powerful brand that gives us a platform from which to speak, and building a movement that generates the political will needed to Repower America. 

Brian Hardwick, The Alliance for Climate Protection
Director, Development and Communications

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