The United States and China arms of OgilvyEarth collaborated on a project that aimed to help crack the code on one of marketing’s thorniest problems. We choose those countries as they are the two largest consuming markets on earth. The problem, dubbed the Green Gap, describes the gap between consumers’ green intentions and green actions. Plenty of research observes that it exists; we set out to understand why, and to discover ways to close it. Bridging the Green Gap is critical to corporate bottom lines and climate trend lines.
Kunal Sinha and Michael Griffiths led the China part of this project, and their findings are presented in Get Going with Green — the companion piece to this work. Graceann Bennett and Freya Williams led the United States project.
Nestled among the more technical topics on the table (policies, procurement, new financing mechanisms) was a particularly encouraging agenda item: public engagement. It is unusual, in these rarified circles, to hear talk of creating a mass movement on everyone’s lips. But this elite cadre knows that to achieve our goals we must motivate a mass green movement, shifting mainstream consumers to a more sustainable way of living. The public engagement session opened with media mogul and climate guru Ted Turner talking about how we are losing precious time and can’t afford to keep failing at motivating the masses. “When will the world understand that we are right and they are wrong?” he intoned from the stage. We nodded our heads in furious agreement and in his frustration, Turner spoke for the room. The mainstream has completely confounded us when it comes to green. They have evaded every rational and emotion argument we’ve thrown their way. To us, it seems they’re just not getting it. But maybe Ted Turner’s remark revealed our problem. Maybe we’re the ones not getting it.
If we are to motivate a mass green movement, perhaps those of us most committed to the green movement need to stop trying to get the masses to see things our way and instead get better at seeing things their way. To get from here to there, a radical shift in perspective is needed. So far, despite the best intentions, the discussion has largely focused on the two ends of the spectrum — the committed Greens talking to their fellow green converts or, alternatively, doing battle with the fervent Anti- Greens, who seem more determined than ever to evade conversion. What we’ve been missing in the process is the massive Middle, the group that offers the biggest opportunity to create the change the world so needs.
It is on the Middle that this report will focus, and more specifically on the gap between the Green Middle’s intentions and their actions when it comes to sustainability. Our goal is to provide insight into the things keeping the gap open and practical, pragmatic, actionable suggestions for closing it, once and for all. We hope you’ll join us.
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