Understanding Your Audience: How Gigantic Uses Short-Form Videos to Reach Younger Audiences

In 2021, Gigantic Idea Studio began producing short videos for the Clean Water Program Alameda County, featuring the popular mascots Fred the Frog and Izzy Egret. A study by the University of Delaware found that, “while mascots may be great at inspiring action through their cheers and high fives, the biggest impacts of mascots may come through displays of disappointment with a negative outcome”. With this in mind, we focused on messaging that showed the impact of pollution on Fred and Izzy.

A key strategy was to distribute the videos through paid promotion on platforms that were popular with younger audiences. At the time, TikTok was becoming a popular platform with Gen Z, so in addition to producing the short videos in the traditional horizontal format, we created vertical versions to allow an optimized experience on TikTok. Gigantic Idea Studio created a TikTok channel for the campaign, and also posted the videos on Instagram Reels.

Fred & Izzy on TikTok

The results were impressive. The vertical version of the Dog Poop video had a CPM of $2.36, compared to $7.12 for the horizontal version on YouTube. Although views are counted differently depending on the platform, the TikTok version of the video also received more views than on YouTube, despite having double the budget.

Gigantic Idea Studio also found success with organic content on Instagram Reels. Its first reel received 3,059 views, compared to the average of 26 views for its previous horizontal video posts. On Earth Day 2023, we posted another reel that received 1,318 views.

To date, Gigantic Idea Studio’s TikTok channel has received 1,720,973 views of 8 videos, through 14 campaigns, and 9,543 likes with 482 followers.

Takeaways

Gigantic Idea Studio’s success teaches a few important lessons about reaching younger audiences with short-form videos:

  • Use humor and creativity. Younger audiences are attracted to content that is entertaining and engaging.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Younger audiences have short attention spans, so aim for videos that are 30 seconds or less.
  • Use vertical video. Younger audiences are more likely to watch videos on their mobile devices, so make sure your videos are formatted vertically.
  • Promote your videos on the right platforms. TikTok is a great platform for reaching younger audiences, but other platforms like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts are also gaining popularity.

If you’re looking to reach younger audiences with your marketing content, consider using short-form videos. Just be sure to keep the above tips in mind to create videos that are engaging and effective.

Do Californians Get the Connection of Food Waste and Climate Change?

Reducing food waste and diverting it and other organic materials from landfill is key to reducing methane emissions in our state (and around the world). California’s SB 1383 establishes targets for reducing organic waste going to landfill and increasing edible food recovery, and public agencies across the state are scrambling to implement it. The law, including outreach for it, was a major focus at this year’s California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) Conference. The Gigantic team’s presentation was designed to contribute to that discussion.

How much do Californians already know about food waste and its connection to climate change? What would motivate more residents to reduce food waste? Back in 2020, we conducted a brief statewide survey of Californians to ask a few questions about their understanding of greenhouse gas emissions, landfill and food waste. We re-ran the survey with some additional questions in 2023 to see if the implementation of SB 1383 was impacting residents’ understanding of food waste and its relation to the warming planet. In comparing the data from 2023 to that of 2020 we noted:

  • 84% of respondents think that human-caused climate change is happening; this is up
    4 percentage points from 2020.
  • The number of respondents who are very or extremely worried about climate change is stable at 50%. There is an increase of those who say they are more worried than they were a year ago: 46% vs 40% in 2020.
  • Only 33% of respondents understood that food scraps break down and release methane in landfill. This is down from 42% in 2020.
  • Despite the requirements of SB 1383 that every resident have access to organics composting service, only 47% of respondents confirmed that their food scraps are collected separately from garbage. 28% said that food scraps go in the garbage and 16% said they don’t have food scrap collection service. 8% did not know.
  • When asked to select the three best reasons for reducing food waste, “The right thing to do” was selected by 45% of respondents (down from 49% in 2020). “Fighting climate change” was selected by 32% of respondents.

The survey results demonstrate that many Californians understand that climate change is happening and they are worried about it, but do not yet understand the connection between food waste going to landfill and the climate crisis. We see this as a possible opportunity for future  outreach: Many of the actions that fight climate change are quite a big “ask” for most people: “Buy a new electric car!” “Replace your water heater!” “Stop eating meat!” In contrast, cutting food waste is both simpler and has many practical benefits, such as saving money. Could outreach about cutting food waste to fight climate change be the daily action that makes people feel positive and hopeful about their actions and the future? This is a question we’d like to explore in future research.

To receive a copy of the full survey report, please email Gigantic.

Partner Power: Building Relationships to Amplify Our Messages

image of sample partner memo with images
Sample partner memo; click to view.

For our government and non-profit partners in environmental behavior change, the good news is: we’re all in this together. When our messaging about recycling, waste reduction, energy conservation and respect for nature spreads far and wide, we all win! So it’s smart to help each other reach as many people as possible.

That’s where the partner power comes in by creating a network of like-minded organizations and a process for sharing partner messages across groups and platforms. It’s a very simple idea: compile your sharable messages into a few easily “cut and pasted” formats, such as newsletter article, Facebook or Instagram, then send the memo to a curated list of partner organizations that pick up and share the content on their channels.

It’s a Win-Win

Not only does the partner memo amplify the original sender’s message, it provides content for those of us struggling to come up with new things to say in our e-news, website or social media.

Get started!

Make a list of the top organizations that share your values and communication topics. Some might be direct “competitors” such as a non-profit with a similar focus, or local governments, more general community organizations (that would be interested in helping their constituents, such as the public library. Reach out to these organizations and explain that you’d like to share content with them and invite them to share theirs with you. Set up your memo template and start sharing!

Top Tips for Effective Partner Memos

Send regularly, but not TOO often

Send your partner memos on a regular schedule if possible, say once a quarter. For time-sensitive messages, be sure to allow plenty of notice so that your content can be included at the right time for the recipient. In other words, don’t send your Christmas post to partners on December 23rd!

Make it easy!

The easier you make it, the more likely your content is to be shared. Include suggested headlines, pertinent links and, ALWAYS, images. Link to downloadable images that are properly sized for each channel. Be sure to specify if a photo credit as needed.

Reciprocate!

Share and share alike, right? Be open to sharing other organizations’ content in your channels. Showing the world that you are a good partner concerned about your community is an excellent strategy – and it’s the right thing to do.

Sometimes the simplest tools can be the most effective. A little effort to set up the partner memo system will pay off for months to come as your partner power and messaging takes flight.

The Role of Art in Making Change

Angela Davis at Oakland Museum graphicBig, complex environmental issues like climate change can easily overwhelm and lead to resignation and denial, instead of creative problem solving. While facts and how-to information have their place in environmental behavior change campaigns, so do art and fostering imagination beyond rational understanding. The Oakland Museum of California currently has an excellent exhibition about African American educator and activist Angela Davis, whose fight against mass incarceration and racism in the 60’s and 70’s made her an icon of Black liberation around the world. The show draws on a huge archive of newspaper clippings, posters, pamphlets, buttons and pop culture objects to tell Davis’s story in the political and cultural context of the time. What makes many of the visuals so powerful is how the call for social change and art are intertwined. Most striking are the political posters with bold, screen-printed images and collages.

In a recorded interview, looping on a large screen as part of the exhibit, Davis comments on the crucial role art plays in social change movements. She notes, “Art can produce knowledge that doesn’t occur with a simple political speech.” Such knowledge doesn’t arise from taking in facts alone and involves much more than the rational part of our brain. As with storytelling, art activates all parts of the human brain, enabling the level of empathy and engagement that can indeed motivate the change we need to see. This is especially important when there is urgency to act but the path forward isn’t clear. As Davis says, “Art enriches our ideas about change. It allows us to grasp what we cannot yet understand and enables us to imagine different modes of being.”

Vivid visual communication is a staple of effective behavior change campaigns.The upcoming Earth Month offers an opportunity to make art a campaign focus. How do you use the power of art in your outreach?

Hard Numbers, Hard Truths: How Data from Spot Checks, Surveys and More Guide Outreach

We know it’s best to base outreach on data that we get from research. Formal research can be costly, but actionable data is all around us – and it can help make public outreach more effective.

For the 2022 California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) Conference, Gigantic participated in a session about the use of surveys and spot checks to guide outreach. Our presentation gave examples from two of Gigantic’s clients: Cities of Milpitas and Livermore.

Among the suggestions:

  • Integrating some research into your outreach plan is better than none. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good: include lid flips and surveys into your budgets as feasible. There’s also data that does not need a specific budget because:
  • Outreach data is all around us. Your agency may not be able to afford a statistically rigorous survey, but quantitative data from hauler reports or lid flipping can be useful guides to what is working and what challenges arise. Qualitative data (individual questions or reactions that represent the concerns of a larger audience) can be gathered from phone help lines, comments at public meetings or from social media posts. Website statistics show us which content is or is not being accessed, what users are searching for and how/when they accessed the site; this is all guiding data for outreach.
  • Use data to react in real time. Are you getting a lot of questions on your social channel about plastic bags? Are lid flips showing an increase in a particular item of contamination? Respond to these questions with blog or social posts, or additional newsletter content, as promptly as possible.

See the full presentation here:

Learn more about CRRA here.

Gigantic Growth! Welcome to our new Associates!

Our team has gotten even more Gigantic! We are pleased to announce the addition of Myer Venzon and Dennis Uyat to our team of Associates.

Myer is a marketing professional with skills and experience in strategy, digital and social media, communications, branding and creative. At Gigantic, Myer contributes to a variety of aspects of our campaigns, with a particular focus on digital strategy. Previously, Myer worked in the green beauty industry, where he was able to grow his passion for marketing with ethical and sustainable products. He is environmentally conscious and does his part by recycling old jokes passed down from his dad.

Myer holds a B.S. in Marketing Management and an M.B.A. in Global Innovation from California State University, East Bay. 

 

Dennis has worked with us on a per project basis since 2019. Dennis is a passionate environmental communicator with a lot of hands-on experience in engaging community members in sustainable behaviors with a focus on zero waste. As a field rep, Dennis has helped set up recycling and composting systems, working with residents and businesses throughout the Bay Area. They have led multilingual recycling facility tours to international delegations, elementary school students and community groups. Dennis has also been a leader with Zero Waste Youth.

dennis head shotDennis holds a B.A. in Geography with a minor in Geospatial Information Science Technology from UC Berkeley and an A.A. in Recycling and Resource Management from Golden West College in Huntington Beach. They hold a certificates in Master Resource & Conservation and Master Compost & Solid Waste from the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability, and Zero Waste Community Associate by Zero Waste USA.

We are excited for our clients to work with both Myer and Dennis in the near future!

 

Selling Nothing: Outreach to Reduce Consumption

Survey questions asked about current consumption attitudes and habits.

We love working on all kinds of waste and sustainability issues with our clients, and we especially enjoy the challenge of moving people toward a more zero waste lifestyle. Our most recent presentation for the CRRA Conference (see slideshow below) looked at the challenge of “selling folks” on the behavior of buying less stuff. “Selling Nothing” introduced some ways of encouraging less consumption, such as by focusing on specific items, or reminding people of the positive feeling that comes from sharing or helping others, or by focusing on specific behaviors, for instance holiday gift-giving, to encourage buying less stuff.

We then presented results of a brief survey of Californians about their feelings around any recent changes in their consumption habits. Many of the questions were borrowed – well, reused — from a 2015 survey done in New Zealand about the connection between buying and people’s feeling of well-being.

A few findings from our July 2021 survey, which gathered 350 responses from Californians:

  • A majority of respondents (53%) confirm they are consciously reducing the amount of stuff they have bought in the last 3 months.
  • Unsurprisingly in this time of economic uncertainty and pandemic effects, over half of those who bought less did so because they had less money to spend or wanted to save more. These answers could give us some ideas about how to position non-consumption.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents agreed with statements about over-consumption’s negative impact on “future generations” and “the planet.” So seemingly awareness is not the issue in cutting consumption, it’s more a question of persuasion.
  • The final question of the survey was “Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?” — asked at the end so as not to prejudice responses to the other questions. 43% said yes, 34% said no, and 18% weren’t sure if they considered themselves environmentalists. The comments revealed some tensions: some considered being “green” too hard or that environmentalists are too radical, while a few were outright hostile to the label.

Key takeaways include:

  • “Selling” not buying in general is a tough challenge; try focusing on specific actions, items or situations in order to chip away at the social pressure to consume.
  • While we encourage source reduction to tackle the issues of waste and climate change, there are many reasons people may reduce consumption that could be included in a source reduction campaign. A primary driver is saving money.
  • A majority of respondents understand that rampant consumption is harmful to people and planet in the long run. BUT…
  • A majority also acknowledge that buying stuff makes them happy. So that clarifies the challenge for outreach campaigns that aim to reduce consumption – how can we offer a form of happiness to replace the happiness of buying?

Our research and efforts continue!

See the presentation:

 

Zero Waste Holiday Outreach — 2020 Style

Well, if there’s one word none of us would like to hear in 2021, it’s “unprecedented.” Throughout 2020, so many things we took for granted in the world of zero waste and recycling outreach, such as promoting reusable bags and cups, had to be postponed or replaced with COVID-19-related topics, such as sorting shipping waste or putting masks and gloves in the trash.

Now the holidays are here, and we find ourselves in the same outreach predicament. We can’t rely on tried-and-true holiday campaigns like our “Giving the Gift of Good Times” video for Santa Clara and Marin Counties. (Click here for the 2019 version). No-waste gifts that involve groups of people, such as fitness classes, dining out, amusement park passes, or theater tickets are not a viable option this year. Even food waste reduction topics need a fresh take, as gatherings have been reduced in size or cancelled altogether, and some of our neighbors are facing food insecurity.

create joy, not waste holiday ideas

For our clients this year, we helped adjust messaging to cover these topics in a way that aligns with public health guidelines and new realities. For example, for Palo Alto, we created a “Create Joy, Not Waste” ad, web page and bill insert (above) to align with hosting a small gathering with Zero Waste style. Actions like portion planning, using reusable dishes, recycling bottles and cans and decorating with compostable decorations still make sense, even if it’s just for your own household.

We re-envisioned our Zero Waste gift idea list to remove gifts for in-person activities and include those that offer online versions, such as art classes and music lessons and streaming theater. Local options for all of these were available, offering another benefit to the community. Outdoor recreation is at an all-time high, so national and state park passes can replace amusement parks.

And lastly, if staying home means we’re more likely to buy “stuff” this year than past years, we made sure to provide options for zero waste gift ideas that eliminate or greatly reduce packaging waste—shampoo bars, unpackaged handmade soaps, or subscriptions for refillable beauty products.

We hope this inspires you all to keep the Zero Waste holiday outreach traditions going. Small tweaks to the messaging are all it takes.

 

Food Waste’s Impact on Climate: What Do Californians Know?

Reducing food waste and diverting it and other organic materials from landfill is key to reducing methane emissions in the state. California’s SB 1383 establishes targets that many businesses are  now working to meet. The implementation of SB 1383 was a major focus at this year’s California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) Conference. As results come in, communicating about SB 1383 implementation and the efforts to reduce emissions will be important; but how much do Californians already know about food waste and its connection to climate change? We conducted a brief statewide survey of Californians to ask a few questions about their understanding of greenhouse gas emissions, landfill and food waste. Some responses were heartening, some were a bit depressing, but data emerged about how to communicate these concepts to different segments of the population.

See the slideshow:

To summarize, we noted:

  • Most Californians do acknowledge that climate change is happening, and that human activity is a major contributor.
  • However, 40% of respondents do not connect food waste with the climate.
  • Many people are unclear about what happens to food waste in a landfill.
  • Messaging about “doing the right thing” may resonate with several different audience segments.

As with any outreach effort, it’s best to understand how much your audience knows and how they feel about a particular issue before designing a campaign. This survey is just a first step in thinking about how to message about food waste reduction efforts and their relationship to the climate crisis.

If you would like a copy of the survey report, please email Gigantic

Earth Day 2020: Same Planet, New Reality

earth day im
This year, coming together for our planet will be different, but just as powerful.

In early March, when the coronavirus still seemed like an obscure disease, the Gigantic team was in full swing, preparing for Earth Month. For Clean Water Program Alameda County, we had created outreach event kits and were about to promote countless litter cleanups. For Santa Clara County, we had partnered with dozens of coffee shops to launch a “bring your own cup” campaign. My own calendar was full of gatherings, including the big climate march in honor of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. Then stay-at-home orders hit the Bay Area, and everything involving a group of people in person was canceled. How could Earth Day turn 50 without a celebration?!

After the first shock, many Earth Day organizers started to take activities online. After all, if everything from staff meetings to Quarantini Happy Hours can happen remotely, why not Earth Day too? In the beginning I was skeptical, wondering if honoring this important date in physical isolation could instill the same sense of community as a march for the Earth or a creek restoration event with likeminded people. But as our team kicked into action to reimagine campaigns and retool outreach materials, like we did for Clean Water Program, I started to see countless new opportunities to build awareness

Clean Water Program’s Frog-tastic Activity Pack teaches kids at home about our creeks.

and change behavior. “Earth Day at Home” can open our eyes to many powerful actions that we’d usually be too distracted and busy to take. This may be the time to do a 10-minute fridge reality check and learn new habits to prevent food waste. Try one of many delicious plant-based dishes, good for our own heath and that of the planet. Stroll around the backyard and discover how even a modest patch of native plants can support a little universe of insect diversity. The team of Oakland’s Earth Day 2020 has compiled many more such actions—in fact, over 50!

Looking beyond our homes, I’m heartened to see so many creative approaches aimed at bringing people together while keeping everyone safe. The Smithsonian’s virtual Earth Optimism 2020 Summit offers four full days of webinar workshops, films and conservation success stories from around the world. An online event by the Climate Music project and National Academy of Science explores the intersection of music, climate science, and community action. The California Coastal Commission is sharing highlights of their work (and awe-inspiring photos) from wetlands to coastal wildlife all #EarthMonth long. The list of events goes on, with many compiled on a searchable global map by the Earth Day Network.

As I now ponder Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, I feel hopeful about the event’s power to bring the environment back into focus, connect people who care about the Earth on a larger scale, and maybe ring in a new era of activism once restrictions lift again. To all our clients, allies and fellow environmentalists, Happy Earth Day!