John Marshall reveals the number one climate communications and marketing message that is most effective across all demographics, on Climate Curious.

Transcript: Climate marketing professor: love is the most effective message

TEDxLondon Climate Curious

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“No-one wakes up in the morning and says it’s a great day for decarbonization,” says climate marketer who’s delivered 3 billion ads on the topic, the founder and CEO of Potential Energy, John Marshall. Climate Curious co-hosts Maryam Pasha and Ben Hurst chat to John about how we can really make climate “pop”: from using real and regular messengers (not politicians) to talking more about “stopping the top 100 polluters” rather than “stopping climate change” (too vague and conceptual), John shares the effective strategies that will get people engaged and fired up to take action. And, he reveals the number one message that is most effective across all demographics. Recorded live at Climate Week NYC at TED.

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[00:00:09] John Marshall: think we started on concepts, and now we’ve got to get down to reality. And the thing is, there’s so much reality to talk about now. Yeah, there’s a lot.

[00:00:17] Ben Hurst: This is Climate Curious, the podcast for people who are bored, scared, or confused by climate change.

[00:00:24] Maryam Pasha: I’m Marion Pasha, the director and curator at 10xLondon, and the co host of this podcast, alongside the amazing [00:00:30] Ben.

[00:00:30] Maryam Pasha: Hi. I’m

[00:00:31] Ben Hurst: Ben Hurst, activist and advocate exploring what positive masculinities can look like and self confessed climate normie.

[00:00:41] Maryam Pasha: This is a conversation, I would say like almost two years in the making because in 2021, Josie and I, uh, and Ben were at. Ted countdown in Edinburgh and Josie and I got to go to a workshop with you, John.

[00:00:56] Maryam Pasha: And what, what

[00:00:57] John Marshall: was I, what

[00:00:58] Maryam Pasha: was I doing there? [00:01:00] You

[00:01:01] John Marshall: didn’t

[00:01:02] Ben Hurst: take it at that. I was napping.

[00:01:04] Maryam Pasha: Um, and. I think that in that workshop, we turned to each other, Josie, who is our producer and said, we’ve got to catch on, but a whisper. So like what, two years later, we’ve got you were hearing at climate week in New York.

[00:01:20] Maryam Pasha: Um, it’s also the UN general assembly. There’s lots happening. There’s meetings. There’s buzz. And so thank you for taking the time to chat with us. I want to. [00:01:30] I want to actually start by having you tell us who you are because much like Ben and I, you are not someone who spent their whole life working in climate, but it’s something that you really focus on and are making like, I would say quite a credit.

[00:01:44] Maryam Pasha: I would say, you know, it’s something that you’re really focused on now and. In a major way. Like this is your whole thing. So, so tell me a bit about your background. Yeah.

[00:01:53] John Marshall: I, um, I was a business guy for 30 years and [00:02:00] so I was working with all these big companies, some of whom might, might be polluters, but we were not going to talk about that too much.

[00:02:05] John Marshall: So I, um, yeah, I worked as a management consultant and a marketing executive working for, you know, the big brands and your fridges and your driveways and I get people to buy them and buy more cookies and buy more credit cards. So I, um, And then my son, I’ve got three boys, and my son came home one day, he was taking a course at school about climate change, and he said, Dad, you’re, you’re not doing shit about climate change, you’re selling, you’re selling shoes, or, you know, like, there’s something more [00:02:30] important out there.

[00:02:30] John Marshall: It’s always the kids. It’s always the kids. And so he pulled out an ad from a, from an organization I will not name and said, this isn’t working. And he said, you’re in this business. And so he literally locked me in the house for a couple of days and said, I want you to call all your friends who are in the marketing business, all the big advertising executives.

[00:02:45] John Marshall: I don’t already see what you can do. And so. Of course, my wife is in the room at the same time. She’s like, you know, you gotta do this. So we, uh, it sort of started this cascade of, like, phoning people up and saying, Hey, if we brought better, if we started using the [00:03:00] same tools and techniques that we have on, uh, in the commercial world to actually get people to care about the issue, would it work?

[00:03:06] John Marshall: So That kind of caused me to leave all of that behind and start this non profit, which is called Potential Energy. So we’re, we think of ourselves kind of as a marketing firm for planet Earth. Trying to basically, how do you get the 8 billion of us to care more so that we do more. But we’re using, I’m kind of a nerd, and so we have, we’re basically using.

[00:03:25] John Marshall: All this data that we’re gathering to figure out in the same way we would, you know, if we’re selling, if [00:03:30] we’re selling some car or something like that, how would we get people to care more about the issue? So three years later, four years later, we’ve served many people out there. We’ve served and measured about 3 billion ads.

[00:03:41] John Marshall: And so we’re watching what you’re all clicking on. Wow. Oh, you’re the people. We’re using it for good.

[00:03:47] Ben Hurst: Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that those people were actually people that are watching

[00:03:51] John Marshall: this. That’s so weird. We’re taking that skill that can be used for evil and we’re trying to use it for good and we’re observing what people care about and we’re testing different messages and we’re trying to [00:04:00] figure out how to, how to get more people in the climate movement.

[00:04:02] Ben Hurst: So cool, man. This really speaks to the power of a forced lock in, doesn’t it? As a kid. I love that’s

[00:04:07] Maryam Pasha: what Ben takes away from it, is lock people in a room and make

[00:04:11] John Marshall: them solve Lock them in. It was a vivid weekend. Yeah.

[00:04:13] Maryam Pasha: Yeah. Um. So, okay. So you’ve been doing this now for three, four years, you’ve been testing these messages.

[00:04:19] Maryam Pasha: I mean, that’s a lot of, of data points that you have. I’m curious for people who really haven’t thought about the idea of climate communications, where are we [00:04:30] at right now? What is the state of the conversation?

[00:04:32] John Marshall: Yeah, well, I think it, I mean, a few decades ago, a lot of policymakers and scientists sort of figured it out and they.

[00:04:39] John Marshall: And so they dominated all the little frameworks that got created and we got stuck with them. Like we get stuck with, uh, decarbonization and net zero and GHG emissions and, and no one knows, turns out no one knows what those mean.

[00:04:51] Ben Hurst: What is GHG emissions? Oh, I know the gases. Oh, right, right, right, right, right.

[00:04:55] Ben Hurst: I know that one. I know that one. So

[00:04:56] John Marshall: I just did a little, I just did a global poll. Uh, of a [00:05:00] representative sample of six billion people on planet Earth. And, and so we asked them, uh, what is the UN’s target for an acceptable temperature increase? Because everyone here at Climate Week is like, 1. 5 degrees, 1 point…

[00:05:14] John Marshall: And the average person thinks that the acceptable target is four degrees centigrade. Whaaaaa? Four degrees, we are really baking.

[00:05:21] Ben Hurst: That’s like game over, right? That’s four Degrees

[00:05:23] John Marshall: is finished. Oh, that’s four. Yeah. Well, we, I don’t, I gotta translate it into Fahrenheit for here, but it’s, it’s, it’s a lot. It’s a lot.

[00:05:29] John Marshall: [00:05:30] Wow. And then we, and we, we, it’s fun. It’s fun to look at the data because. We know in every country throughout the world what, what people think, and it turns out that the Germans are the most accurate, 24 percent of them know what, uh, what the goal is. Somehow, not surprisingly. But the Brits and the Americans aren’t doing quite as well.

[00:05:48] John Marshall: I think the Americans are like, 1 out of 15 people know what the target is. So basically all that kind of gibberish is, is not really helping get, you know, the 8 billion of us to. Right. Rise up and do some stuff. So that’s what [00:06:00] we’re working on.

[00:06:00] Ben Hurst: So is it, is it, is it a case of like what’s happened so far has increased people’s awareness or has it not increased awareness?

[00:06:09] Ben Hurst: Is it, are we like failing on that front of like increasing awareness or is it just the specific specificity of the details that we’re missing? I think

[00:06:18] John Marshall: awareness has gone up a lot, um, and P. N. Caring has gone up a lot, and the desire for governments to do stuff has gone up a lot. But when you get right down to actually getting stuff done, [00:06:30] people don’t really understand what it is and they don’t know what to do, and they don’t necessarily know how to support it.

[00:06:34] John Marshall: So you’ve got like, you have 80 percent of the planet who thinks governments should do what is necessary to solve climate change. So that’s a, that’s a huge number of people, but they’re not sure what comes next. And then when you talk about… A law just passed for scope 3 corporate disclosures. People are like, well, I don’t know exactly what mouthwash I have.

[00:06:54] John Marshall: We need them to get supportive of the [00:07:00] actual stuff we’re going to do. Conceptually, they’re supportive of it. But when it comes down to what are we, what are we doing? And then we, so. Our firm is trying to just get, make it real, make it for regular people, get people to connect with it and get more people on board.

[00:07:12] John Marshall: So, okay.

[00:07:13] Maryam Pasha: I want to ask about that, but I have a question that has been. In my brain for a long time doing this work, you know, a lot of the conversations I have with people who are deep in the climate work, you know, is they talk a lot about, we have to get people to care more and, you know, having being [00:07:30] familiar with your research, seeing some of what others have done as well.

[00:07:33] Maryam Pasha: It feels like people care, it’s the, it’s the, what do we do about it? And who does the, does that thing that feels like it’s the hurdle?

[00:07:42] John Marshall: Yeah. And I think us making it complicated has made it hard to get to the next step. Uh, people do care and they care a lot cause they just notice it. Right. And they see what’s happening in their lives and outdoors and then Libya and Hawaii and so forth.

[00:07:54] John Marshall: So they were definitely caring a lot more. Um, but there’s a, there’s so many things that they’re [00:08:00] told to do, like hundreds and hundreds Do this with your diet, and do this with your car, and do this with your recycling, and do things with your plastic, and so, I think a big part of Like we got to simplify this a lot in order for people to be able to get behind it And so that’s kind of what we’re trying to figure out and

[00:08:15] Maryam Pasha: so in terms of that simplification Can you give us some examples of kind of what you’ve been testing and what’s been working out there in the world?

[00:08:21] Maryam Pasha: Yeah,

[00:08:22] Ben Hurst: so wait, are you running just to clarify you are you running tests on like how people are responding to? campaigns.

[00:08:29] John Marshall: Yeah. Well, [00:08:30] we have kind of a big, uh, persuasion machine as it were, that is running ads and running tests and running basically measurable media. The same kind of thing I would do if I was trying to sell you a credit card.

[00:08:40] John Marshall: Right, right, right. So we’ve done.

[00:08:43] Maryam Pasha: Well, you actually talk us through, cause I don’t think people understand how that process really works. What does that look like?

[00:08:50] John Marshall: Well, it’s kind of basically the exact same thing as, as companies, right? So you, you do a bunch of research on population. You figure out what people care [00:09:00] about.

[00:09:00] John Marshall: Um, you create segments like you, and then you develop a whole series of messages against those groups. Like it might be moms, it might be steel workers, it might be, you know, rural populations. And you. Test a whole bunch of different things, and then you find out, you watch what happens, you find out what they care about, and then you use those messages.

[00:09:17] John Marshall: So it’s, it’s like a hundred percent data driven approach to get people to care more about it. Um, and it turns out that’s a very efficient way to make money as a company. And the same thing actually works for climate. So that’s what we do. Mums,

[00:09:29] Ben Hurst: steelworkers, [00:09:30] and rural communities, the cornerstones, the cornerstones of society.

[00:09:34] John Marshall: The fun thing about doing it is that you’ve, you discover things about life too, like, uh, uh. I have, I was quoted in the New Yorker in an article a couple of years ago, because the data has basically told us that men are largely useless on climate. And so every single test that we’ve done, we increase, we increase action among women about twice as much, almost twice as much as men.

[00:09:54] John Marshall: It’s, I’m not sure why that is, but the data gives us clues. We’ll figure it out.

[00:09:57] Maryam Pasha: [00:10:00] Tell us a bit more. So tell us what you’ve tested and tell us

[00:10:05] John Marshall: kind of what you’ve been doing. Well, I think that I mean, the easy part is that the usual gibberish doesn’t necessarily get people that excited. No one wakes up in the morning and says it’s a great day for decarbonisation.

[00:10:18] John Marshall: And then we come up with concepts, which I think in Europe are a little more prevalent, but they aren’t really very well known. Like, Net zero. And like, who wants to go to zero? I don’t want to go to zero. I don’t even know what net zero is. [00:10:30] So those things, maybe, obviously, those things don’t really connect with your average person.

[00:10:37] John Marshall: We did a test in Florida. We tried to get a whole bunch of people to like join the client, sign petitions and so forth and Uh, get to 100 percent or get to net zero by 2030 or whatever is about four times more expensive as, you know, stop my, stop my flooding problem. And so it’s kind of obvious, but what we actually need to do is stop my flood is, uh, you know, talk about stuff that people actually care about.

[00:10:59] Ben Hurst: Yeah, [00:11:00] it’s interesting because now that you say that it does make me think that I don’t know if I’ve heard of a climate campaign that sounds like I wrote, I mean, like one that sounds like it’s relevant for my demographic. So if I think of like. 30 something adults. I don’t know if I’ve heard anything that makes me think, Oh yeah, I should actually pay attention to that.

[00:11:19] Ben Hurst: I think it’s often been the conversations around it that have got me engaged, but never, never the actual messaging or branding. Net zero is a really [00:11:30] interesting one. I’ve never thought of that. Like, what is that? Obviously now I know what it means, but before I knew I didn’t, I wouldn’t have ever thought, Oh yeah, that sounds enticing or appealing in any way.

[00:11:39] Ben Hurst: Yeah. Here’s a funny

[00:11:40] John Marshall: one. The, uh, I don’t know how, how big ESG is, if anyone in your, uh, in your audience has heard of ESG. What is ESG? There’s a big thing, there’s a big thing in America about ESG now. In Europe too. And in Europe. And there’s a new campaign that’s come out against ESG called Woke Capitalism.

[00:11:55] John Marshall: So

[00:11:56] Maryam Pasha: ESG is, uh, economic. Social and societal, environmental, [00:12:00] social and

[00:12:00] John Marshall: governance. It’s a super big concept in the corporate sector and then in the investing sector. And now it’s become a political fight in the U S and so we’ve got interested in that and it, it violates all of our principles because no one knows, it turns out 26 percent of people who’ve even heard about it.

[00:12:14] John Marshall: So we did a poll on ESG. Which is like a big term that climate people use. And it turns out, and we asked, what does it mean? And the number one answer had the word eggs in it. I mean, I even thought it was economics, so yeah. Egg, sausage and grits.

[00:12:27] Ben Hurst: Delicious breakfast, that’s what we’re talking about. These are the real issues that [00:12:30] we need to be tackling.

[00:12:32] Maryam Pasha: And sometimes, do you get this sense when you are working with people who are in climate, that there’s a real, there’s a real, I feel this sometimes, um, what’s the word? They’re really tied to these terms. They’re really tied to this terminology. Like they’ve almost fought so hard to get it. That the idea of letting go feels like they’re somehow giving up.

[00:12:53] John Marshall: I think so. Well, also like we’re here, here we are on climate week. We’ve had all these meetings. It’s, there’s a lot of energy. [00:13:00] There’s a lot of positive energy and it really feels like we’re making progress and the legislature in California just passed climate disclosure legislation. And so we’re very excited.

[00:13:09] John Marshall: That’s like a big win for the people who are in climate and climate disclosure legislation doesn’t really mean that much, but like stop the cover up on pollution is a good way to do that. Right. So we should get excited about that because it actually is a way that you could actually talk to people and it can be relevant to them.

[00:13:25] John Marshall: So it’s a, it’s a pretty small bubble. Yeah. Um, we did about 50 [00:13:30] percent of people claim to have heard of the Paris Accord. Well, they’re not, most of them are lying. It’s probably more like 25%, but even like people just want to sound like they know

[00:13:37] Ben Hurst: what they’re talking

[00:13:38] John Marshall: about. But 50 percent of people are willing to say, I’ve never even heard of it.

[00:13:42] John Marshall: So here, here in New York, we’re talking about the Paris Accord a great deal and it doesn’t really. It doesn’t really work very well. So

[00:13:48] Ben Hurst: what, what things have you found that actually work for if you, if you take like the, the demographic, for example, of moms might not be a good one, but like a demographic of moms, is there, because obviously like if I go on [00:14:00] YouTube for whatever, I have targeted ads, right?

[00:14:02] Ben Hurst: Like they’re targeting me with things that are relevant to what I am interested in, what I watch, is it, have you developed data sets about like what the things are that actually work for those groups of people? We

[00:14:12] John Marshall: have, um, and so, and moms are one that we talk to all the time cause it. They care a lot and they move a lot and they do a lot and they typically get involved in lots of social movements, you know, whether it’s gun violence or drunk driving or seatbelt laws and so forth.

[00:14:27] John Marshall: So the moms are usually in the forefront. So we do a lot [00:14:30] with moms. And we found that, uh, there’s a fun. We did have a funny epiphany the other day. We looked at all the data and, you know, there’s these, there’s these debates. So it should, it should be about fear or no, you should be about hope. Should we sacrifice?

[00:14:43] John Marshall: No, you should be about abundance all these. And so. Yeah. We run all these ads and it turns out that it’s none of it’s right. The thing that works the best with moms is actually love. Wow. Wow. Like taking care of your kids is a primary motivator. And so people get, they get motivated by that. Tell us more [00:15:00] about this.

[00:15:00] Ben Hurst: This is so nice. Threaten them with their children and then they will be.

[00:15:04] John Marshall: Love is. Love for your kids, and we want to take care of them, and yes, and so if, so fear, optimism, hope, joy, all those other things, they’re kind of part of love, you know what I mean? Like, sometimes I’m worried for my kids, and sometimes I’m hopeful, and sometimes I’m joyful, and so, we’re, we’re trying to figure out how do you tap into things that really matter to people, and so, to get to moms, you really talk, you know, what can you do to take care of your kids, because that’s the thing that, that they think about a lot, and how can you get involved, and that tends to, [00:15:30] That tends to really get people way more engaged and the promise of green jobs in your economic community and, you know, climate change attracts all these amazingly smart people, right?

[00:15:39] John Marshall: And there’s just because it’s so hard. So you have to be like fearless in the face of something that’s really hard. So a lot of people come into climate. Who are very, very bright and then they try and communicate in a way that’s very, very bright. Yeah, a global competitive advantage and all those kinds of things, but people just want to take care of their kids or make sure they can still fish or, you know, have the vacation spots [00:16:00] that they like.

[00:16:00] Ben Hurst: So interesting. So, so obviously half of this is about the messaging, right? Like it’s about like the actual things that we’re saying to people to communicate why they should care or do care and don’t realize that they care. Yeah. Does, does. The messenger have any impact on that? Like, is it, is it like, uh, does it matter who’s saying those things to those people?

[00:16:21] Ben Hurst: Or is it just any, it doesn’t make any

[00:16:23] John Marshall: difference? Yeah, it matters a lot. Uh, and you know, I think the biggest problem of all is that if you did a pie chart of the messengers, [00:16:30] 90 percent of them would be politicians. And so we’ve picked the least, we’ve picked the least trusted humans on earth. The most important problem.

[00:16:36] Maryam Pasha: If

[00:16:40] John Marshall: they just didn’t talk

[00:16:40] as

[00:16:41] John Marshall: much about it. We need moms and doctors and farmers and fishermen and regular folks to talk more about it. But it is, yeah, there’s way too much. And you know, the data basically says an ad with a politician in it will perform like about, like a tiny fraction of like someone who you can relate to.

[00:16:58] John Marshall: Really? Oh yeah.

[00:16:59] Ben Hurst: [00:17:00] Yeah. That’s super interesting. We need them.

[00:17:02] John Marshall: And we need them to make the change, but we need them to quiet down.

[00:17:05] Maryam Pasha: So here’s a question. You just alluded to it as we research, as the, as the, as the team goes to research, is so message, the message of love is highly effective with, with across all of your

[00:17:19] John Marshall: segments or months?

[00:17:20] John Marshall: Pretty much across anything. Really?

[00:17:22] Ben Hurst: I can’t believe it. Yeah.

[00:17:24] John Marshall: It’s kind of bigger than politics. The message of love actually gets [00:17:30] conservatives to really care more about climate change because it’s the one thing that we actually share.

[00:17:33] Maryam Pasha: Okay, so this is what I wanted to ask is, so love is universal, which is actually lovely.

[00:17:38] Maryam Pasha: Beautiful. Um, but there must be messages that have, I just know this. So when I used to work in immigration, the messages that really worked for people who are, who were like supportive of migrants rights, really turned everyone else in the other direction. And the messages that worked for like the center and the center, right.

[00:17:57] Maryam Pasha: Really pissed off people.

[00:17:59] John Marshall: Is [00:18:00] it similar here? Totally. Yeah. There’s a lot of messages that. For every one, for every person you gain, you lose somebody a lot, and a lot of ones that get used. Um, I, in the U. S., I call those climate y messages. What do I mean? Climate’s actually not an adjective, as it turns out.

[00:18:17] John Marshall: It’s a noun. And so we’ve invented this really useless phrase, climate change, that we’re stuck with. We should have called it, should have called it the pollution blanket, or overheating, or something that people get mad at. But we’re stuck with that. We’ve been stuck with that for a while. Climate this, climate, you go around here and there’s climate, [00:18:30] climate this, climate that, climate action, climate jobs, climate, uh, and so that feels like a smaller thing, you know what I mean?

[00:18:37] John Marshall: Whereas the planet’s overheating because of pollution feels like a much bigger thing. And so everybody’s involved in that. And if there was one thing we learned about the whole thing is just talk about pollution. Call it pollution. Don’t call it emissions. Don’t call it climate change. And it’s, if you think about it, and this is what gets to like getting the average person’s head into this.

[00:18:57] John Marshall: Because if you ask the average person, help fight [00:19:00] climate change, they’re like, oh no. How do I start? Can I have a difference? But if you say, we’re not fighting climate change. We’re finding the polluters who are causing climate change, that seems a lot easier, right? And so you say, you know, 70 or 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of the pollution that’s overheating the earth.

[00:19:17] John Marshall: People are like, oh, we can do that. We can actually talk to those 100 companies. Someone can call them up and we can put regulations on it. So it makes people feel much more relaxed. You can like see it in the, in the, in the focus groups that you do when you say, well, there’s a, [00:19:30] there’s a select number of organizations that do a tremendous amount of pollution.

[00:19:34] John Marshall: If we deal with that, we can actually deal

[00:19:36] Ben Hurst: with the problem. Yeah. Cause that’s such a manageable goal, isn’t it? Like that feels like an actual achievable target to just focus your energy and your attention on like a hundred companies and be like, Oh, let’s just try and stop those guys from doing it. And also to think about like how much pollution you’re doing, which maybe is not the best way to, or maybe that’s another part of the issue is that that messaging around [00:20:00] stopping your own emissions and all of that kind of stuff.

[00:20:01] Ben Hurst: It’s an interesting

[00:20:02] John Marshall: point. Cause I was super curious about this. Cause if If people think that they’re totally responsible for it, it feels a lot harder than if people think companies and oil companies are more responsible. So we just did this big global poll to try and figure out, like, which was it? Are people wandering around carrying the burden on their own and thinking, I should fly, I don’t want to fly, but I want to get to see my niece or whatever.

[00:20:21] John Marshall: Right. It turns out that for every hundred people, this is across 23 countries, Twenty two of them think that [00:20:30] individuals are the ones who should take the lead, but seventy eight of them, uh, think it should be companies and the government should take the lead. No, it should be big companies and all companies should take the lead.

[00:20:39] John Marshall: And so, pretty much the world realizes that we gotta go after the big polluters in order to solve it. So, I think we waste a lot of time, uh, thinking about, uh, The list of a hundred things you want to do now it is good to get people to do things in their own lives because it makes them feel engaged and so forth when I heard an interest like a smart comment that somebody made like [00:21:00] what should look if you’re facing the question what should I do as an individual the answer should be stop being an individual go get some buddies together talk to the school or talk to your city or whatever so I think that’s where we need to steer people to make it simpler there are I think you It’s if you, if you have it, let’s say we’ll make a little contest and we’ll give you a pro climate message and then we’ll give you the slow down your climate, your climate stuff message.

[00:21:24] John Marshall: Okay. So the pro climate message would be we need to stop extraction of fossil fuels in order to [00:21:30] fight climate change. Sounds pretty good. I think the secretary general might’ve said that in the last couple of weeks. And the, and the other message is we can’t, we need to gradually reduce emissions and we’re going to need fossil fuels in order to keep our prices low.

[00:21:44] John Marshall: Okay. So, so if you ask 6 billion people about that, which one do you think wins? The second one wins by about 20 points. Because keep the prices low. Keep the prices low. Right. And so I kind of, this gets back to the love thing a little bit. I’ve developed this new theory that we’ve kind of got [00:22:00] like the better and the worst angels of our nature.

[00:22:02] John Marshall: Like there’s like the immediacy and, and those kind of, maybe it’s not the worst angels, but there’s a bunch of stuff we need today. Which we’re kind of wired to do, and we consume more, and we want lower prices, and we, and all those kinds of things. And then this is, and that’s like a baked in, like, genetic force, right?

[00:22:19] John Marshall: But there’s other baked in genetic forces that we care for others, right? And that’s like, all species have that, which is a love thing. And so that’s, it’s kind of a fight between the… Uh, I don’t know the seven deadly sins in the book of virtues or something like that, but [00:22:30] is there’s a love side of human nature, does the caring for other side meet, like beat the immediate gratification side, and I do think the other side can do pretty well with the, it’s going to cost you more, they’re taking things away, they’re limiting your freedom, there’s a ban, there’s a mandate, there’s a blocker, it’s going to cost you, it’s going to cost you, yeah.

[00:22:48] John Marshall: And so we do need to talk, in order to tip those scales, we actually need to talk about the winner, winning on the other side, which is your kids gain more and society gains more and you’re going to have less pollution. It’s going to be more prosperous. And so, um, but we’re fighting kind [00:23:00] of the near term, the near term thing.

[00:23:01] John Marshall: And that’s the tricky part. And it’s super easy to say it’s going to cost you more. That actually works really well.

[00:23:05] Maryam Pasha: You know, what it makes me think of is, you know, there’s that story, um, around how we all have these two wolves inside and it depends on which wolf you feed that wins. The kind of, I’m going to call them like the delaying messages.

[00:23:19] Maryam Pasha: They feed the negative, the selfish individualistic short term negative wolf. And, but the climate, the pro climate messages, they don’t feed the love wolf. They just [00:23:30] are, they don’t do anything. And we haven’t had enough messages that feed that other wolf really.

[00:23:35] John Marshall: The, um, we’ve tested a whole bunch of different taglines, uh, and one that we use quite a lot that we may use a lot more.

[00:23:42] John Marshall: is later is too late. Um, because I approve that one. The reason I brought it up is that you mentioned delaying and I think it’s always possible to have both. You know, taking care of our families and taking care of the future, but also got to deal with today and that’s a real issue, but if you [00:24:00] don’t create some urgency, you don’t face the, you don’t face the reality of it.

[00:24:03] John Marshall: And I was thinking, it’s kind of like my corporate world, like you’ve got to buy now. You’ve got to actually go and do this now. And it also gets to the other problem we were talking about at the beginning. Like people are, people aren’t quite sure what to do, so you have to create a sense of okay, we’ve got to, we have to act now, later it’s too late, we’ve got to really move on it.

[00:24:23] John Marshall: So that tends to work pretty well.

[00:24:24] Ben Hurst: Yeah. Um, because I imagine if you can sell life insurance, you can sell climate action, right? Like if you can motivate people to [00:24:30] do something in that regard of like, You can’t do it later. You need to do it now. That same message in must apply. Yeah in lots of

[00:24:36] John Marshall: different ways You’re totally right And so what are marketers actually do the ones who are making you buy things that you didn’t think that you actually needed?

[00:24:44] John Marshall: They’re coming up with a why yeah, right And so the reason you might buy a certain fashion product is that you want to be You know, part of the group, or there’s always a why behind all of this. like Ben Hurst,

[00:24:54] Ben Hurst: really. You do.

[00:24:55] John Marshall: It’s possible. You can. So we’re on this, like, search for why. Because that’s [00:25:00] the unlock to climate change, is you find the big why, which is why I think the kids and the love and the caring is a good place to go.

[00:25:06] John Marshall: So here’s

[00:25:06] Maryam Pasha: a question, because we mentioned the polluters. And this idea of, you know, going after them and these group of people, does the idea of accountability then also resonate with people? Does, is that a message, this message of accountability of that? There are a group of people who we need to, or a group of companies.

[00:25:24] Maryam Pasha: Does that work or is that too negative? Is that going down the wrong

[00:25:29] John Marshall: path? It [00:25:30] works. It works well. Uh, it doesn’t work quite as well as the thing I talked about before, but I would say it’s an important part of the mix. I think the way you hook people. Is that why the reason why do I get engaged and then what do we and then then there’s the what do we do about it and we actually and we found is that it’s it’s a little easier to talk about limiting, uh, pollution and polluters rather than eliminating an industry like where you because this real people work in this industry and they’re just like us that they [00:26:00] actually are and they have jobs and they have careers and they see things in different ways and that’s where the love thing comes in as well because we got to care for them.

[00:26:05] John Marshall: Yeah. As we work through the transition, and there’s also a whole bunch of people who don’t have the same energy that we have in the northern hemisphere, and we’ve got to care for them as well. And so I think, I think political accountability works, but it needs to work in the context of a bigger reason that together we’re actually moving to a better future, as opposed to just, just making it villainy.

[00:26:24] John Marshall: And if you just call out, like eliminate an industry, you don’t, and if you do that in. [00:26:30] I don’t know, Texas or different places. That’s not, it’s got a little tone deaf to the realities of a whole bunch of people who are getting their livelihood in Texas.

[00:26:38] Maryam Pasha: Yeah. You know, it, it reminds me of part of the, so coming from the human rights world, which is all about people.

[00:26:46] Maryam Pasha: One of the things that I felt so strongly when I started to work in climate was that. We were so stuck in these abstract ways that we’re so disconnected from people, right? Like the, the person who [00:27:00] has the job, the person who lives in an area that’s going to get flooded, the person who, you know, loses their livelihood or whatever it may be.

[00:27:09] Maryam Pasha: And instead we look at these like forces and weather and all this kind of stuff. And what you’re saying is actually. Centering it back. Yeah. On that pers on on the

[00:27:17] John Marshall: people. So, yeah, I think it’s a, in a way it’s kind of an obvious point, but we did all this analytics behind it, , and so we ran, it’s always good to have the data.

[00:27:25] John Marshall: We ran these, like, and so imagine that you’re, you’re making all these ads and so one ad might have exactly the [00:27:30] same, uh. Uh, story, but you have different images behind it. So, for example, uh, we have exactly the same story, but one image is a, is a hurricane and the other image is a smokestack. Well, it turns out the smokestack actually gets people to care more than the hurricane.

[00:27:43] John Marshall: And so we, we, we do all these tests. And we, so we looked recently at all the, like, okay, let me see the top 20 of the 500 tests. And what’s, and then you look at it and it’s like, oh, they all have one thing in common. They have faces. Not just people, but they got faces and the faces are really [00:28:00] close to the camera.

[00:28:01] John Marshall: And so, and so… And you can, like, you can see people’s eyes, so the closer you get, and then you give a person a name, and a location, and a story, it’s just dramatically more effective than anything else. We had, we made a, we made a really bad ad, uh, about, about… Whole purpose? Well, well, there’s people called donors.

[00:28:25] John Marshall: We, what we do, we make a lot of things that we spend media dollars on the ones that are [00:28:30] actually work. So we made one about the, called the pace of innovation. Uh, and then we, and then we, we did a test. with uh, you know, with my mom just talking about what causes extreme weather and her concerns of the kids.

[00:28:39] John Marshall: And the second one was eight times more productive. And so, and then maybe, maybe it’s kind of obvious, but I have the analytical proof that when you look someone in the eye and you’re really close to face to face, you actually, you actually make some progress. Let me

[00:28:50] Maryam Pasha: ask you, what are the. Do you have like, what are the, what are the findings of the work you’ve done that you’ve got the most pushback?

[00:28:58] John Marshall: Oh, the most [00:29:00] pushback. Or the

[00:29:00] Ben Hurst: most, most hesitation oppressing

[00:29:02] John Marshall: that setback. Yeah. The juicy question. The juicy question. Well, okay. I’m just going to go there. Um, I think there’s a necessary narrative in the, in the political world about the job creation that comes from, uh, you know, from this big transition.

[00:29:19] John Marshall: Um, and yet test after test after test after test, it doesn’t get people as animated as talking about things that they believe right now. Now, if you go really [00:29:30] local, so if it’s a job creation in a certain county it works, but if you talk about it in an aggregate, like this is big economic transition, we get these jobs, and it comes from politicians, we’ve talked about that before, it’s not very productive.

[00:29:40] John Marshall: And so we asked 58, 000 people, what’s the reason that we should… Uh, address climate change, and 3 percent of them said jobs and economic growth on 12 times as many people said to take care of our kids. And so it’s just really clear that we’ve got to get really human and personal [00:30:00] and direct and relevant and Oh, politicians need to talk about economic growth.

[00:30:05] John Marshall: It’s like part of the narrative that you need, but it only lands

[00:30:09] Ben Hurst: when it’s local. Yeah, it doesn’t bang the way that they think it

[00:30:11] Maryam Pasha: does. It’s interesting because it’s like, it’s all about that. What people are thinking about first, because obviously having a job is about providing for your family and kids.

[00:30:19] Maryam Pasha: But you, the first thing you think about isn’t I need a job. The first thing you think about is I need to provide for my family. And then if you ask maybe how, or in what way, then you might have like all of these other things, but I [00:30:30] guess it’s what that first recall is, or that gut

[00:30:32] John Marshall: for people. I think, and it can work and it, and it will work more and there’s battery plants going up on these.

[00:30:37] John Marshall: And in Michigan, there’s lots of really exciting projects and that you can get a lot of support for. But the concept of climate growth is a concept and the way to sell climate change is a reality. And it’s either a reality of this family that lost their home in a fire. Or this, um, you know, this person who doesn’t have air conditioning for a streamer, they’re like reality beats concepts on this thing.

[00:30:58] John Marshall: And I think. I think [00:31:00] we started on concepts and now we got to get down to reality. And the thing is, there’s so much reality to talk about now. Yeah, there’s a lot.

[00:31:06] Ben Hurst: There’s a lot

[00:31:07] Maryam Pasha: going on. So you’ve been doing this work now three, four years. What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve either experienced or found in your

[00:31:14] John Marshall: work?

[00:31:15] John Marshall: The most surprising thing? Um, well, I think you can move people across the political spectrum. You can actually, it doesn’t have to be a progressive actually [00:31:30] possible to do. Um. Thank you. And people are, I think, a little tired of all the political nonsense, and so if you do it the right way, you can actually get people of all, you know, all shapes and sizes to care about it, and that, that’s the, that’s the hard thing.

[00:31:43] John Marshall: So we’re, we kind of need, need all of us, and that you can actually

[00:31:47] Maryam Pasha: do that. If people are talking about climate a lot in their lives, what could they take away from your work? Like three practical tips. Yeah.

[00:31:55] John Marshall: Okay. All right, I’ll do the three practical tips. Go for it. I mean, the three, the… [00:32:00] Simplicity, humanity and accountability are like the three territories simplicity, humanity and accountability.

[00:32:05] John Marshall: And so practical tip number one is, um, just use like just all the regular language. And so that basically means that when you have a press release from a climate organization, you rewrite it. Go for simplicity. I mean, humanity is like, what does the person on the other end care the most about? Turns out the most uniting messages are kids.

[00:32:28] John Marshall: Um, yeah. And then [00:32:30] accountability is about we’re all fighting polluters and pollution. And that’s what and that’s what climate is. So those those tend to be the three guideposts that we use. Um, I think that’s the case, uh, for everybody on the humanity one. I have a more specific tip. And I particularly tell this to political leaders and, and, um, people in the climate sectors, whenever you’re talking about climate change, within five or six words, accompany it with a consequence so that people can, so it becomes relatable.

[00:32:59] John Marshall: [00:33:00] So the climate change that caused the flooding in Pakistan, the climate change that caused the dramatic overheating, the climate change that burned up Maui, the climate change that’s increasing your air conditioning bills. Not a future consequence, but something that has happened. But stick a consequence in there because climate change is kind of a loose, loosey goosey weird thing.

[00:33:15] John Marshall: Yeah. But make it. The overheating and the floods and make that there and don’t ever don’t ever think that people are like you gotta activate that in people’s heads what they’re actually thinking about. Brilliant.

[00:33:26] Ben Hurst: That’s that I think that’s probably my big takeaway from this conversation when [00:33:30] you said that stuff about talking about pollution rather than talking about climate change.

[00:33:32] Ben Hurst: Yeah. To me that really sticks out as like talking about an immediate issue rather than something that’s just a potential idea of what might happen in the future. Yeah. Because I think it really changes the way that people have to engage with the conversation. Actually. Yeah. Really, really interesting.

[00:33:48] Ben Hurst: Great was what has been the most impactful or successful messaging that you’ve seen?

[00:33:58] John Marshall: Um, [00:34:00] well, I think we’ve covered a lot of the pieces of it, having a really good messenger, uh, and talking about something that people really care about. Um, it’s a message that comes from, uh, you know, your community. We have, we have, um, We have one ad, you can go see it if you want, it’s on sciencemoms.

[00:34:20] John Marshall: com, it’s called By the Time and it’s a story, uh, that traces the, uh, a child growing up. And so it starts with a [00:34:30] sonogram and then it has, it has, you know, when the kid’s little and then I have watched

[00:34:35] Maryam Pasha: this ad and it gets me like, I’m in tears by the

[00:34:39] John Marshall: end of it. And so you see the trajectory of all these images.

[00:34:42] John Marshall: And it says that our window to act on climate change is just like how they grow up. You blink and you miss it. Oh my gosh. And so it’s just, and so you, as the parent, you imagine this is the 20 year journey that my child goes through and I’m taking care of them all the way through. But the thing that I can really take care of them to do is to get involved in climate.

[00:34:58] John Marshall: So that’s one of our most effective [00:35:00] things and it definitely makes people cry. And we do find like, cause they think of their own kid when they see it and they get emotional and it makes them want to get involved. So that’s our. That’s our number one, number one ad

[00:35:12] Ben Hurst: and now it’s time for our climate confessions.

[00:35:16] Ben Hurst: Let’s fess up to the bad habits we just can’t kick.

[00:35:23] Maryam Pasha: Our listeners will know what this is, but this is basically where we get to ask you for your climate confession because when Ben and I started [00:35:30] doing this work, it felt very much like you had to be perfect to do anything effective on climate. And we are. One interview at a time

[00:35:38] John Marshall: shattering that. Very far, very

[00:35:39] Ben Hurst: far away from that concept.

[00:35:40] John Marshall: Yeah,

[00:35:41] Maryam Pasha: and so we want to know what your

[00:35:42] John Marshall: climate confession is. I drive a 1965 MGB, but only 10 miles a year, but it’s probably the dirtiest car on the road. I also have an electric car, but occasionally I get the other one out of the garage. And so I’ve debated swapping the engine out for an electric one, but I haven’t done it yet because I like the noise.

[00:35:59] John Marshall: I like

[00:35:59] Maryam Pasha: [00:36:00] the noise. That is a clue. You’re that person driving past my window with the noisy car.

[00:36:04] John Marshall: Luckily the car cannot go more than 10 miles and so my carbon emissions from the car are low.

[00:36:09] Maryam Pasha: Uh, those are brilliant confessions. I like them. Very nice and specific. Uh, Ben, do you have a confession? It’s been a while.

[00:36:15] Ben Hurst: So my confession, this is soul destroying at this point. My confession, This week is is that I have had a really sore back and a really sore neck for the last like fortnight And so I’ve been [00:36:30] having loads of baths to like try and heat up seconds Yeah, like to stretch out and stuff and but I have this really bad habit where like I run a full bath and then I leave it for like an hour and a half until it Like it’s not hot anymore.

[00:36:43] Ben Hurst: And then I let half of the water out and then fill it back up with hot water. So I’m wasting, don’t shake your head at me. I’m wasting, sorry, Josie’s shaking her head at me. I feel so judged, but I’m wasting a lot of water. Um, yeah. And a lot of energy. So. I need to, I need to fix [00:37:00] that, but my back is not as sore anymore, so hopefully it will be resolved soon.

[00:37:04] Ben Hurst: Do you have one?

[00:37:05] Maryam Pasha: I mean, my ones will continue being the same, uh, flying. Flying is just my inevitable, flying in business, particularly, because it’s like, quadruple my, you know, emissions, but whatever. Uh, I just, I, I’m so resigned to it at this point, like you were saying, like the, the earlier about this, the, the guilt, um, for me, the guilt really is about flying.

[00:37:29] Maryam Pasha: [00:37:30] That’s where my, mostly the guilt message fits in. So I think I’ve confessed to that like 17 times on this podcast already. But, um, John, this has been an incredible conversation. Thank you. Um, it’s really awesome to see this work that you’re doing and that it’s being so well received. And I think we’re.

[00:37:48] Maryam Pasha: Well, we’re all going to be going into election years very soon, you know, some of our respective countries. And so hopefully some of these effective messages will, either politicians will stop talking or they’ll get [00:38:00] some effective messages and messengers and make this more of a priority.

[00:38:03] John Marshall: Very good. Well, it’s really good to be with you.

[00:38:05] John Marshall: I’m glad we finally did. Thank you, bye! Thank you! Alright.

[00:38:11] Ben Hurst: Thank you for joining us this week. We really hope you enjoyed this episode.

[00:38:15] Maryam Pasha: If you did, please hit the follow button to make sure you get next week’s release. We are

[00:38:20] Ben Hurst: now officially crowdsourcing Climate Confession, so please leave yours in the ratings and the reviews section, and we’ll shout out for you next week.

[00:38:28] Ben Hurst: And shout [00:38:30] out to our fabulous team behind the pod.

[00:38:33] Maryam Pasha: This episode was produced by Josie Colter. Artwork designed by Rebecca Menzies.

[00:38:37] Ben Hurst: Curation by Maryam Pasha. Mix and

[00:38:40] Maryam Pasha: engineers by Ben Beheshty.

[00:38:42] Ben Hurst: Music also by Ben Beheshty.

[00:38:44] Maryam Pasha: Presented

[00:38:45] Ben Hurst: by Ben Hurst and Maryam Pasha. Remember, stay curious.


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