The role of identity in influencing change (Part 4)

In this series of blog posts I have explained the role of identity in changing behaviour, showed you a video to highlight using identity to influence behaviour, and then gave an example of changing teenage eating habits by tapping into their identity.

This blog post, the fourth in a series of five, is about using identity in a slightly different way – playing into who people don’t want to be.

If you drink, then drive, you’re a bloody idiot

In 1989 Greg Harper and Stewart Byfield, were tasked with writing a commercial for the TAC that would “upset, outrage and appal” drink drivers. With the road toll trending towards 1000 deaths per year, Mr Harper envisioned a credible campaign that would scare viewers into taking the issue seriously. This is what he came up with.

Greg Harper said in a later interview, they wanted to; “…shock people and force them to think about their own attitudes and behaviour.” To do this the advertisement was shot at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the middle of an active emergency department using a real medical crew. Harper said they just didn’t want convincing acting; “…but a sense that our audience had seen the real thing.”

Of course, this degree of reality and the shocking images contributed to the campaigns success – in the following 12 months, the road toll dropped 37 per cent – but what remained even longer was Harper’s tagline – “If you drink, then drive, you’re a bloody idiot”. It’s become part of the Australian vernacular.

See the use if identity in the campaign? It was tapping into who people didn’t want to be. Who wants to be a bloody idiot?


Wasting water is weird

Preserving America’s water supplies is a serious topic, but serious communications weren’t waking consumers up to their own wasteful habits. To try and address this lack of action a campaign was created called “Wasting Water Is Weird.”

In the campaign, a character named Rip the Drip showed up that moment when using water became wasting water, and he made that moment so awkward, no one could forget it.

Again, the campaign – which 29% of consumers who had seen the campaign said it caused them to change their water usage habits – was all about who people didn’t want to be. Would you want to be like Rip the Drip?

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