CAMPAIGNS: Public Awareness - Taking the guilt out of shopping

Promoting the recycling of consumer goods, such as cans, bottles and newsprint, has been an important aim of Friends of the Earth (FoE) since it was formed 26 years ago. FoE has now moved on to campaign against consumerism as a way of life and as an economic philosophy.

Promoting the recycling of consumer goods, such as cans, bottles

and newsprint, has been an important aim of Friends of the Earth (FoE)

since it was formed 26 years ago. FoE has now moved on to campaign

against consumerism as a way of life and as an economic philosophy.



International No Shop Day was created in the early 1990s by radical

green student groups and by Enough - an anti-consumerism pressure group.

FoE joined the campaign for last November’s No Shop Day. A report

entitled Tomorrow’s World - Britain’s Share in a Sustainable Future,

published by FoE last November, provided a factual and policy backdrop

to No Shop Day.



The research claimed that ’Britain will have to make huge cuts in

consumption in order to avoid a fast-approaching environmental crisis

and help the developing world.’



The report argues that the UK must scrap unqualified economic growth as

the central policy goal and that cuts in resource consumption would lead

to more jobs, better health and increased quality of life.



Objectives



To focus attention on the perils of consumerism in the run-up to

Christmas; to encourage shoppers to ask how long products will last; to

make the link between consumption and environmental sustainability.



Tactics



FoE’s campaign was run by its industry and pollution campaign team - one

of the pressure group’s five main campaign teams - headed by Ann

Thomas.



The team mobilised the 250 local FoE groups in England, Wales and

Northern Ireland, provided briefing notes, and art work, but encouraged

the groups to run local campaigns themselves.



The London office handled national press and media relations and

organised a photoshoot at a No Shop near Waterloo Station. The shop was

a joint installation project with the Royal College of Art’s environment

programme.



It features tempting window designs, but empty shelves. Visitors

received a receipt for not shopping.



Surreal humour marked many of the local events. Shopping-free zones,

shopaholic clinics, bald headed zombies chanting ’shop till you drop’

and fake products appeared in several towns and cities.



Thomas said the campaign was ’generic rather than at this stage trying

to drive home a particular policy.’ Non-confrontational humour was

chosen to get people thinking without feeling guilty.



Results



The campaign was covered by a wide variety of media, and was picked up

by columnists and leader writers for the national newspapers. John Ryle

in the Guardian compared the No Shop concept to a ’consumer fast’.

Friends of the Earth has not released an evaluation of coverage.



Verdict



This was an ambitious campaign which attracted a lot of media attention

during the Christmas period. Adam Woolf, former head of public relations

with Greenpeace, said it was creative and successful in getting over a

general message in a clear way.



’It was also fun and was live in the high street, rather than just

existing in the media,’ he said. Thomas said the campaign cost ’very

little’ and added that next year Friends of the Earth might target a

specific company as part of the campaign.



Client: Friends of the Earth

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: International No Shop Day

Timescale: 29 November 1997

Cost: Undisclosed



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