Somebody Better Do Something About Global Warming
In the late 1990’s, a series of factors came together and Effect Partners (We were called MusicMatters back then) was able to help change the course of history:
- Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by Unilever and everyone thought the ice cream company had lost their social change commitment.
- The environmental community had come up with a way to frame global warming, but the groups were not working together and did not have a way to get the word out.
- Dave Matthews Band was interested in becoming a cultural icon, like Jerry (Cherry) Garcia and Phish (Food).
- MusicMatters had just completed a decade of working with the country’s leading environmental organizations while helping to establish Earth Day as an annual event, was working with Jerry and Ben on some social change projects and was the greening advisor to Dave Matthews Band.
We felt global warming needed to be addressed and we saw that we were in a unique position to “mainstream” the concept of global warming, help Ben & Jerry’s regain their social impact leadership role and help Dave Matthews Band achieve their goal.
Effect’s leadership spent 18 months traveling around the country meeting with the leaders of the environmental community, with Ben & Jerry’s management team, with Unilever (who had not made any global warming commitments up to that point), with Dave Matthews and his legal, management and record label teams and convinced everyone we needed to work together put global warming on the map. And, then collaborated with each party to design and create a campaign that would allow all parties to benefit. We needed to put global warming on the map in a way that was approachable and not overwhelming. It needed to be impactful enough, but not alienate Unilever. It had to carefully use Dave Matthews Band name and image but leverage it as much as possible. The challenge was to get organizations like Greenpeace to agree to work with a company like Unilever and vice versa. Or, to get Dave Matthews Band to agree to a corporate deal because they had avoided any corporate tie-ins up to that point. And to let us use their song One Sweet World. The basic message was: “Global warming is real and can cause devastating hurricanes, forest fires, flooding, and pandemics if we do not take action. Global warming is man-made, and if we take action now, we can slow the impact of global warming.” (If only global warming had not become politicized and people had listened!)
With this framing, Effect was able to create The Ben & Jerry’s Dave Matthews Band One Sweet Whirled Global Warming flavor and campaign. “Eat this ice cream and lose 2,000 pounds…of CO2.”
The One Sweet Whirled campaign was the first national global warming campaign, uniting the top 20 environmental groups under a unified message. The campaign put global warming on the minds of mainstream America with a hopeful message of change and impact. A press conference at the National Press Club with Dave Matthews Band and Ben & Jerry generated millions of impressions about global warming. One Sweet Whirled was featured on several Dave Matthews Band tours at venues around the country. PSAs ran throughout the country. Talking points and media trainings for key environmental leaders, Ben & Jerry’s team and Dave Matthews Band members were provided. EFFECT created a national promotion tied in with the global warming campaign for a new type of car just entering the market no one understood, called the Prius. Toyota attributes this campaign to pushing the Prius into mainstream consciousness. The entire One Sweet Whirled campaign generated over two hundred million impressions.
The campaign provided C02 reduction equivalents (washing in cold water saves 500 pounds of CO2, for example) and asked everyone to try to reduce their emissions by 2,000 pounds of C02. This is the amount of C02 each American would need to reduce to meet the terms of the Kyoto Protocol. Dave Matthews Band became a cultural icon. One Sweet Whirled was Ben & Jerry’s most successful product launch and this initiative helped get Unilever to embrace climate change as a key focus of their company. Over $300,000 was raised for the environmental community and most Americans heard about the concept of global warming for the first time.