NEW YORK: Comedy Central has launched a call-to-action effort to save the environment, one obsolete cell phone at a time.
The "Address the Mess" initiative is "about giving people the information and resources to reduce their own environmental impact," said Tony Fox, EVP corporate communications for MTV Networks Entertainment Group, Comedy Central's parent company. "It's putting power in the hands of viewers, as opposed to a larger business or industry plan."
Introduced August 10, initial campaign components include PSAs encouraging viewers to visit AddresstheMess.com, a Web site loaded with specific, actionable ways to decrease their carbon footprints. Some are as easy as recycling outdated mobile phones and properly disposing household trash, Fox said. The site also lists links to partner organizations including Earth 911 and Native Energy.
Other than the PSAs, early PR efforts focused on the launch itself, Fox said. He added, though, that Comedy Central is committed to spreading its "Address the Mess" message. In the fall, for example, a network-sponsored college stand-up tour will include student involvement in branded recycling drives. All PR is currently being handled in-house.
According to Fox, Comedy Central had been looking to engage in a long-term “prosocial” project for some time. But "because we make fun of things in so much of what we do, coming up with the [right concept] was a challenge," he explained.
What the network knew for certain was that its primary audience – 18-34, educated, and affluent, Fox said – was "looking for information, and ways to make a difference."
Based on research by an outside firm, Comedy Central also knew that among its core demographic's most pressing concerns, "the environment was one that just kept coming back … this was what viewers were interested in."
Still, Fox said, now that "Address the Mess" has launched, the network is considering ways to broaden its reach.
"Giving people information, empowering them to make personal changes," can extend to issues beyond the environment, he said. That could mean topics such as education, literacy, or voter registration. Tackling the latter, in particular, would help "mobilize young people to have a say in the upcoming election," Fox said, as well as "provide partnership [opportunities] with a lot of organizations."