I stood dumbstruck, looking at the latest poster campaign for our Green Capital campaign. Type only, a headline with no direct involvement for the reader, copy with no specifics, and generic web addresses buried at the bottom as a half-hearted call-to-action. How did such a dull poster possibly get made with these ingredients:
1) Vancouver – jewel of the Pacific Northwest, a city many say is the most beautiful on earth.
2) A bold new vision from our City Council aiming to make us  ‘The Greenest City in the World’ by 2020.
3) Hundreds of individuals, businesses, and events that are already getting us well on our way.
4) A creative community bristling with under-recognized designers, artists, marketers most of whom (yours truly included) who would give up some very useful left parts of their anatomy to help tell this story.

Now, I don’t want to throw stones at anyone’s work. I have certainly turned out my fair share of turds, driven by deadline, client intransigence, surplus of alcohol and/or lack of caffeine. But is this really the best we can do to inspire our citizens and get them involved?

My regular Green Briefs readers will know that I firmly believe it is easier to criticize than create. It is therefore my practice to provide some solutions along with the brickbats. (In fact, in an earlier blog post on the Green Capital Campaign I offered several ideas for engaging the public in this worthy vision) So once again, unasked and unpaid, I humbly offer a few suggestions for Mayor Gregor and my hard-working colleagues at the City of Vancouver.

Green Briefs Marketing Recommendation

1) Be specific. State some goals. The Green Capital report is full of bold, visionary specifics that are much more intriguing than the generic and somewhat hazy ‘Bright Green Future’. Use them.


2) Recognize people who are already doing their part. Like maybe, Oh I don’t know… transit riders???!! Extend the Green Capital branding with the term ‘Green Capitalist’ to engage our citizens. (Note that it is quite possible to make a successful type-only campaign if there is no budget for visuals. The copy just has to work harder)


3) Paint a visual picture of the future. Let people imagine what being a ‘Green Capital’ would be like. Tease them with some specific parts of the plan. In all cases, make the call-to-action bolder and specific to this campaign. That way not only will people find answers to these specific issues with one click, you will be able to track the campaign’s success.


So there you have it. A few short hours with Photoshop, Google Images and a PDF copy of the Green Capital report is all it takes. Call me.

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