Saving One Mountain–A Better Approach to Saving the Earth?

Selling an intangible idea is a common, but nonetheless daunting, challenge for creative types in any industry. For example, the green marketing movement has little problem making products that are both environmentally friendly and save money attractive to potential buyers. (Though the next time I hear any variation of the “Go Green, Save Green” phrase, I’m calling the Commissar of Cliches and putting out a contract on that writer!)

But what about “Saving the Earth”? What does it mean? Are we saving it from pollution, greenhouse gases, resource exhaustion or another environmental nemesis? Are we appealing to the Environmentalists or the Conservationists? What about the guy next door that just wants clean air, clean water, and roadway shoulders free of trash? How do we get them to care about something that isn’t directly affecting them at the moment? Even harder, how do we get them to agree to increased costs in the name of the environment?

Enter the plight of Coal River Mountain (If you’ve watched Hulu in the past three months, I guarantee you’ve seen this spot).

Tangibility

The people behind this Coal River Wind project did an excellent job realizing that this situation affects very few people directly. The area in question is a very sparsely-populated area of West Virginia. So how did a small town create a campaign to save their mountain and make it relatable to thousands of people all over the world?

Focus

The first part of the ad follows a fairly common template–dramatic music, large white text, video of a countryside ravaged by mountaintop coal mining.

But then the otherwise-average spot grabs attention when a mountain goes up (or rather, down) in a pile of dust and debris. It seems a rather senseless destruction to those of us watching at home, but what can we do about it?

Help build a wind farm, save a mountain.

Not help save “the mountains” from “the coal company” from “eventual destruction,” but help save “this mountain, right now.”

Call to Action

The main shortcoming of this ad was the lack of a clear call to action. There was a website given at the end, but it was not on the screen for a very long time, and somewhat obscured by the logo. I visited the site and found it to be basic, but well organized. If the main goal of this campaign is action, however, I would recommend highlighting one specific step people could take (such as signing the online petition).If the point was simply making people aware and care, they’ve done their job well.

I’m not normally too given to environmental causes. Sometimes it seems to me that environmental action groups are the real “party of no,” focusing on what shouldn’t be done, instead of what should. Sometime they seem to react to a problem with solutions that present unintended consequences, and sometimes they try to make us care about a topic so big, so amorphous, that we just can’t wrap our mind around it. But despite my admitted self-bias, they have found a great, simple, focused way to reach me with this spot, and I congratulate them.

What improvements could be made to this spot? What would be a convenient, yet meaningful way for people to become involved?