Reporter's Note: President Obama, when he is not traveling the world, is asking Americans to help him with advice on how to run the country. After waiting on hold for the better part of an afternoon, I decided writing the White House might be better than calling; and ever since I’ve turned out a letter a day.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Loved that speech over in Europe about taking on global climate change. Your thoughts were clear, sharp, and the crowd warmed up to you like…well, I guess the planet. But here’s something to keep in mind as you push toward instituting you global warming initiatives back home; if you don’t connect with the Walmart and McDonald’s crowd, you may find your reception…uh, kind of cool.
Some time ago I read an article about “green” marketing. It said most consumers, given a choice between a green product and a not-green one, will chose the environmentally friendly alternative, but only if it looks like a “normal” product. The towels must have bright colors, the soap should smell nice, the napkins ought to be white and soft. The researchers found that if you rolled out some kind of brown, scratchy, Dead Head hand-me-down, it just wouldn’t fly.
Makes sense. Think about the Prius. It pretty much appeared to be a regular Toyota. There were earlier versions of eco-friendly cars but nobody wanted them, because they were small, and bubble or box shaped, and even the hard core eco-crowd didn’t want to ride around in a vehicle that looked like it belonged to George Jetson. Or Gallagher.
My point is I’ve met oceans of regular Americans, people who are not particularly into politics or causes, who are willing to get on board the environmental train if you will just give them a hand. That means you can’t dwell a lot on what you believe will happen a century from now; they need to hear what is coming next week, next month, next year. They want to hear about the positives of responding, not the negatives of ignoring.
(Some of your environmental pals, btw, could take a lesson in that. Sometimes it seems like they are a strange kind of new Puritan; opposed to anything that involves people having fun.)
Even if you think we will have to sacrifice something to address this issue, that’s not the way to sell it. A car dealer doesn’t start by talking about how much your new ride will cost. He starts by talking about what a great car it is, the money you will save, and how much you will love it. In the end, that’s what makes you feel good, and a lot of people will buy that.
Hope your weekend is going well. Did you try to call last night? I was taking a shower and thought I heard the phone.
Find more of the Foreman Letters, here.
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