These Come From Trees Sticker

These Come From Trees Sticker
This is the sticker we're hoping can save a couple hundred thousand trees a year. Amazing how the right message at the right time can make the difference.

Quick Facts about "These Come From Trees"

Friday, March 2, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance, and how not to be Gored

Having watched the incipient (and likely planned) backlash against Al Gore for his family's own electricity usage in the face of his work on Inconvenient Truth , got me thinking about how important it is for the "whole package" of a given product / service to "hang" together in the right way.

This is true with "These Come From Trees" as well, and I thank my buddy Noah, whose RA I was in college, for pointing this out in a message he sent me from the TCFT Facebook group. Noah's a journalist, so he spends a lot of time thinking about words and communicating. To quote him:

"If I were trying to really clarify the message though, I'd print recycled stickers. "

Totally good point right? After some research, custom-printed recycled stickers don't really exist as far as I could tell. Secondly, if they did exist, they would like come at a cost premium. Don't know how much, but as a fairly niche product, it would probably be appreciable.

This might be problematic, because we want to make sure that the costs of the stickers are as supportable as possible, such that as many people as possible are willing to buy them. Their inexpensiveness helps make the message more pervasive, which is the point. The more stickers out there, the more "costless waste reduction."

But Noah's point leads to a broader point, which is: the performance has to match the expectation, and this means anticipating questions like that, and dealing with them.

So, I've been trying to make sure that the "whole product" here jives with the intent. But I've been having a hard time. So many people have ordered stickers, which is awesome, that we've been scrambling to get all the infrastructure in place to get those orders out.

When I went to Office Depot yesterday, I specifically set out to find small footprint, recycled envelopes in which to send the stickers to people who got them. But mirabilis dictu, they didn't have any. Not a single one. Amazing huh?

We had to get some envelopes to start sending out stickers, so the first batch isn't recycled. However, going forward, we're going to make sure that all components of the project adhere to this guideline, as long as it doesn't impede the larger goals of the project (for example, not going to be making handmade stickers out of scraps of old envelopes--defeats the goals of the project).

Our next batch of envelopes will be coming from here.

Thanks for the food for thought, Noah, and everyone else who has been commenting.

8 comments:

Noah Barron said...

Wow. I had no idea I was launching you on a full-scale exploration of the semiotic implications of your sticker campaign. However, it's pretty rad that you're that involved.

I find it hard to believe that there aren't a wealth of recycled paper stock options in the printing world. If that's the case--THAT'S the business you ought to be in.

Anyway, good luck to you and may I now have my free stickers for contributing? :)

In a sort-of-but-not-really related arena, I've been locking horns with journalism luminaries about how the "death" dead-tree newspapers isn't such a bad thing. Sermon to the choir found here at OJR.org (Online Journalism Review).

Pete said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete said...

It's not so much a "full scale exploration of the semiotics" of the campaign Noah, so much as a crystallization of how when someone creates a product or message, they have to be in tune with the potential ignorance that already exists in the market. You neglect it at your peril.

Just like Matt Drudge can post something about how "Al Gore's carbon footprint is 20x bigger than the average american" and rely on people to not think through the fact that this would be the case of anyone who travels by airline as often, and that such air travel is a necessary component of his global warming education campaign, people can make accusations that feel intuitively "right" at first but fall apart upon further investigation.

Kinda like the commenters who have said "Way to go man! Using paper to tell people to people to use less paper. Great idea...not!" At first, it's kinda like "yeah, that is a point" but when you think through the return on the investment of that sticker, the benefit becomes obvious.

We addressed this with another question by making the sticker sport the "This can save 100 lbs of paper a year" on it to address the immediate concerns of a bathroom owner who might not think through the benefit of having it on their towel dispenser, but rather just see "GRAFFITTI!" and tear it down.

Your comment raised another example of a conclusion that could easily be jumped to, that needs to be addressed ahead of time.

Thanks for contributing indeed! Email your address, and your stickers will be on their way! Put 'em up all over USC!

Mike Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Berge Rejection Slip Theater said...

Thank you for the discussion.

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