Thursday, August 2

Designing Sky: EarthJustice.org

Maybe it is because I'm working on a Web site for a company that is introducing a best available technology for concrete slurry recovery (mixer washout), but a few environmental campaigns have recently stood out to me. One of them, Adopt the Sky, which was launched by EarthJustice.org, adds a new twist on petition signing.

The Adopt the Sky campaign asks people to sign a petition that calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen ozone standards beyond the new levels introduced on June 21.

From a communication perceptive, what struck me about the petition is that it is set against the backdrop of a blue sky with bright green washers floating at various fields of depth. When your cursor rolls over one of them, it turns orange and a speech balloon pops up with one of the petition signer's personal messages.

For example, one might say "Heather B adopted sky over DC on 08.02.07: It's the least we can do." Currently, there are more than 16,000 disks and messages featured on a free-flowing petition.

It works because the design complements the message as an extension of the overall strategy. The best messages usually do. Currently, advertising is trending toward increasingly outrageous messages in every medium with businesses (or their agencies) sometimes forgetting that runaway creative ideas sometimes get carried away to the point where they drown out the real message.

If you have ever seen an advertisement that was funny enough to tell a friend, but you could not remember whose advertisement it was, then you know what I'm talking about. In contrast, the Adopt the Sky campaign keeps it simple with an interesting, free-flowing design element that complements its message. I've seen the technique used on the Web before, but this one works especially well.

Yesterday, I also received another indication that EarthJustice.org knows a little something about communication ...

"We are so sorry! We just sent an email to you thanking you for signing our petition on the AdoptTheSky.org site.

But we messed up ... we mis-matched your email address with
someone else's name! We are correcting the information right
now. And don't worry - your personal information is protected.

Thanks for your patience. By the way, you can still tell your friends to 'Adopt the Sky' (link inserted)."

Sometimes, demonstrating you can make a mistake without taking it too seriously can have a greater impact than the original message. While a follow-up e-mail like this won't work for everyone, it does work for them.

In closing, allow me to add that this post is much more about communication than environmental policy. If you are interested in environmental policy and this petition, I fully encourage you to explore the various arguments before signing it (like any petition).

If there is one critique about this campaign: much of it reads as if the campaign is supporting the EPA. It is not. This petition supports the organization's position that the EPA fell short on June 21.

While it seems clear to me that most people understand it is in our best interest to protect the environment, most of the debates generally polarized over the pace in which we protect it. And that is something to always keep in mind.

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2 comments:

Jericho Saved on 8/2/07, 1:18 PM said...

Rich,
Very interesting.I paid a visit and love the design. It gave me a lot of ideas but guess I need to learn more about that side of things. I have a thought though.
Thanks. Interesting article.

Rich on 8/2/07, 3:04 PM said...

Thanks JS. That was the idea to encourage people to some to start thinking differently about design. Much like writing, the best comes out of a solid strategy.

I once remember a designer who won a top design awards for what was a very stunning piece of work. She lost the account though. At $75 per piece and a a zero response rate, well, you know. :)

All my best,
Rich

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