Advocacy via YouTube

Far too often, environmental advocacy has relied on a communication strategy based on stern lecturing. The hope seems to be that information and education will lead to awareness, will lead to guilt, essentially, and will result in behaviour change. This strategy has hung on across the environmental movement, with determination, and with depressingly few exceptions.  I believe that change in public opinion – and the resulting political pressure – could have happened faster.

‘Proper Education’ is a video that works, and holds attention in spite of its music video length, for a number of reasons, including bike stunts, parkour, free running, and remix of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall, by Eric Prydz – a Swedish DJ who’s also a big thing in the underground dance scene.

It’s been circulating, linked to its online video at YouTube, for the past four months, and is also a great example of how causes can and should tap in to user-generated media for advocacy. If the creative is strong, it can take off via viral marketing.

The viewer comments about the ‘Proper Education’ video revolve either around loving the remix, thinking it’s blasphemous to Pink Floyd, or asking about how bricks can be used to improve energy efficiency. The discussion has resulted in another avenue for education opportunities:

ronaldostepovers (3 months ago) Why do they put bricks in the freezer and in the toilet?

nwfkristin (3 months ago) You put a brick in your toilet so that it uses less water.

opalcat (2 days ago) And in the freezer/fridge it holds the cold (when you open the door, all the cold air flows out, while any solid objects retain the cold and require less energy to re-cool)


Or this:

XtOfje (2 months ago) Simply put: in the original song the youngsters had to listen to the older peeps… and so Pink Floyd made the song “another brick in the wall” when he was ‘older’. The message of THIS video is that the youngsters show the older peeps how they SEE things, as… young peeps have actually things to say so… “Switch Off”

XtOfje (2 months ago) As for instance: They use bricks to use less “toilet water”… this is constructive… while in the Pink Floyd version he had to take the bricks out of the wall. The times they are a changing ;-).

Now you figure it out about the lights…


The video is clearly targeted at youth, and it’s the comments from youth that are most interesting:

RasioNo1 (1 month ago) focus on the message of the video, save our world, the youth ís the future of the world and we have the power to change something.

immortalsticky (1 week ago) “and also this wont work at all, how many kids are now going to think “oh my god, i really should turn my light or tv off when im not using it” none! ”

stuff4lifeetc (12 hours ago) um ya im 15 and i think about that everyday and about 200 other kids at my school do the same so dont say things wont work just because ur not bright enough… look at Benjamin Franklin

nickitheboo (1 week ago) totally 14 and our school talk about what we can do to help stop global wamring, and stuff. it doesnt matter how old you are, or how bright you are, everyone can help

My guess is that it was a secondary goal to post an environmental video targeted to youth on YouTube, rather than the main mission. But I think it’s another good example of how advocacy campaigns now could, and ought to, include a social media marketing strategy.

“Experience has shown that providing people with information and telling them how they should behave (“teaching” them) is not enough to bring about behavior change. “

– United Nations (UNESCO)


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