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Engaging Communities to Adopt Sustainable Products

To effect a large scale change in favor of a more viable process sometimes requires a greater commitment. At last year’s annual Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, former President Clinton appealed to advertising industry executives to build a better world. He used his keynote speaking opportunity to invite brand makers to leverage their collective knowledge and use their big ideas to work on issues that make a difference for the future.

According to President Clinton,

“The communicators will have a profound influence on how the next 20 or 30 years will turn out.”

An example of such innovation is the transition to electric vehicles following decades of gasoline motors and rising fuel costs. In 2008, the Tesla Roadster launched its $100K vehicle in Palo Alto, years after the Prius achieved ‘green’ status. General Motors introduced the EV1 in 1996, over 17 years prior, but for various reasons it did not cross to the mainstream. The recent news about Tesla Motors offers hope for a zero-emissions future. But innovative ideas don’t spread fast, they require advocates to communicate support and offer knowledge to enact consumer acceptance and behavior change.


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In 2011, while in Silicon Valley I noticed a Tesla charging bay in a parking garage. I had arrived at Santana Row, an upscale outdoor shopping complex with a Tesla showroom mixed in with the retail fashion stores. This being my first car showroom within a retail location, I took the opportunity to explore the sole vehicle and its design elements. This interactive experience enabled me to discover various features including the external carbon fiber panels, aluminum chassis and to simulate on a touchscreen how far I could travel in an electric Tesla and the cost associated. 


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In hindsight, this showroom example provided the realization of the fundamental importance of providing unique and intimate experiences to help innovation crossover to consumers. These new technologies require the exposure within communities in order to facilitate awareness and adoption and also to stimulate conversation. Through hands-on opportunities that open up the dialogue, brands can  stimulate consumers to enact change. As existing processes become inefficient it is ultimately our responsibility to reject outdated systems in favor of innovative alternatives. As technology advances, we must foster opportunities where communities can gather to build a sustainable and resilient future together.

By Tamar Burton

See Also: 

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

Food Labeling: Confuse and Conquer

To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed

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