Tuesday, 30 December 2014

You're My Hero

I’ve talked pretty extensively about framing, and how it helps to tailor messages to the individual. Capturing a particular message on climate change which attracts specific attention and can help make the problem understandable. Now the issue with framing is that given the multiplicity of the public you can end up with hundreds of different frames, and should a person encounter more than one in a short space of time this could be confusing or overwhelming. So is there a frame that can reach everyone?

Jones 2014 has used a message as old as civilization itself. Stories, that is a tale with a setting, plot, characters (both good and bad) and a moral or solution have been successful in various fields but especially advertising (Matilla 2000). Just take a look at the Christmas adverts this year with John Lewis’ Monty the Penguin or Sainsbury’s war time fable.

Across the entire political spectrum, turning climate change into a story had a great impact on understanding and willingness to act. However it was not the setting, nor the moral or even the bad guys. The biggest factor in inspiring change; The Heroes of the story. In nearly every case respondents identified with the heroes of the story, be them concerned NGOs, Individualistic Capitalists, or scientists. Even more interesting was the control group, who were left to interpret the IPCC executive summary without any framing.

Leonardo DiCaprio helps narrate this video by Green World Rising. Will his contribution help reach more people, greater influence those it does reach, or both? Is his lavish lifestyle hypocritical. Role model involvement in climate change poses numerous ethical and logistical questions.

Putting climate change into a media that humans have always used has the potential to be beneficial across politics and beliefs. We identify with those we believe to be good or knowledgeable but only when speaking in a medium we understand. This explains why respondents scored higher when scientists were heroes in the story rather than the people behind a bland IPCC report. I think the issue of heroes has even more leg room, celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio have become increasingly involved in the climate change movement, both narrating for NGOs and speaking directly to the UN. Ignoring his use of numerous private jets for a moment, his ability to play the hero both on an off screen has great potential for reaching wider audiences but also helping them to engage with the topic. Even if he is used to speak pure science people are more likely to respond than coming from a face they cannot recognize as a force for good.

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