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Green Cause For Effect


Stuart Miller

Multichannel News
April 20, 2008

While cable networks across the spectrum have been busy trying to find ways to generate green programming consistent with their brands, even channels that can’t regularly find a good content fit are devoting time, energy, and money to the issue through green cause campaigns. In most cases, they are using their online platforms to inform and encourage action in ways that don’t always work in entertainment programs.

Nickelodeon has long been a leader in ambitious pro-social initiatives — in 1993, it ran a “Plan It for the Planet” special featuring then-Vice President Al Gore — so it should come as no surprise that its campaign, “The Big Green Help,” is a long-term, multilayered effort. (It is modeled on “The Big Help” drives that Nick ran in the 1990s.)

The campaign has four major themes:
Slow the Flow — teaching kids about minimizing the waste of energy and natural resources;
Recycle and Pre-Cycle — not only encouraging recycling but also the use of recyclable items;
Give It the Third Degree — teaching kids to use less heat in the winter and less air conditioning in the summer;
Grow the Green — fostering the planting of trees and the preservation of natural resources.

Senior vice president of public affairs Jean Margaret Smith said the project was based on a study done in conjunction with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change revealing that the vast majority of kids 8 to 14 believe they can stop global warming, though half of them were not sure what steps they could take. The study also found that while 33% of kids and 25% of parents feel responsible for the environment, 62% of families drink bottled water daily, while 45% still do not recycle.

“We really need to connect the dots,” Smith said, adding that while most adults in the survey felt world leaders were responsible for transforming society on this issue, kids believed it was up to individuals. “We need to show how they can do something about it and how they can engage in the here and now.”

Smith added the campaign will be about more than simply doling out takeaway tidbits of information.

“We want to go beyond the tip of the day and really explain the issue,” she said. “We want kids to be thought leaders at home and in the community.”

April 22, 2008 is Earth DayThe “Help” will begin in April — tied to Earth Day — with public service announcements, online information and games and grassroots activities geared toward helping kids take direct action. Over time the network will also work environmental messages into all of its series, Smith added.

Many activities will be partnered with national and local environmental or youth-oriented organizations. In April, Wal-Mart Stores, for example, will distribute over 1 million seed packs with secret green codes that can be used to play a SpongeBob Squarepants-themed environmentally oriented game.

After six months of “seeding the campaign and creating an identity with the major themes of what kids can do and why,” Smith said, the campaign will reach a peak in November with what Nick bills as the “first global multiplayer online green game for kids.”

In the game, individuals or teams try to “virtually” lower CO2 levels and are challenged to pledge volunteer
hours that will help produce the same result in the real world.


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