• Julie de Vaan

Don't buy Coca-Cola if you don't help us recycle

An effective advertisement based on the Behavioural Map for recycling

In 2019, Coca-Cola's summer campaign was all about recycling. In 'Let's not waste this Summer' the focus was on returning empty packaging. The most striking part of this campaign were large billboards stating: 'Don't buy Coca-Cola if you don't help us recycle'. In these billboards, set up and developed by Noise, behaviour was taken into account prior to concept development. Together with Noise and Coca-Cola, we first examined which buttons to push to make a real impact.

Applying the Behavioural Map for recycling

Of course, we did this based on our Behavioural Map for recycling. The goal of the billboards is to appeal to and activate as much people as possible: we want everyone who walks around on the Albert Cuypmarkt to recycle his/her bottle. Therefore, we have to push as many buttons as possible, so we did. And what makes this billboard so effective, based on the Behavioural Map?

1: Responsibility

The slogan on the billboard pushes the exact right buttons when it comes to responsibility. The Behavioural Map shows that taking responsibility as a brand or organisation as well as feeling responsibility as a consumer is very important for recycling behaviour. And one easily comes at the expense of the other. With the slogan 'Don't buy Coca-Cola if you don't help us recycle', Coca-Cola clearly places a great deal of responsibility on the consumer, but the brand also presents itself as vulnerable and responsible. Because by asking consumers to stop buying your product if they don't recycle, you also take on a great responsibility as a profitable organisation.

2: Habits and a conscious choice

Let's face it, getting this message from Coca-Cola is quite unexpected. Because who would expect a large commercial organisation to ask people to stop buying their product? Such an unexpected message stands out and disrupts our thoughts, patterns and habits for a while. As a result, the message gets through better, and people make a more conscious choice. If they normally throw their empty bottle on the street or in the wrong bin on automatic pilot, there is a good chance that they will at least think that choice through again.

3: Clear standards and expectations

In addition, Coca-Cola sets a very clear standard with this slogan. When you buy our product, you recycle it. That's how it should be, and that’s how it is. It’s very clear what is expected from you as a consumer. If you don't, than your behaviour is disapproved.

4: Brand Power

And finally, as usual, Coca-Cola uses its brand power. And that is important, because the standard and the disapproval we just mentioned, only work well if they come from a strong brand. That is why Coca-Cola should be very recognizable as the source of the message. The message about recycling is more powerful when it comes from Coca-Cola, compared to a (semi-) government or environmental organisation. That is because it gives people the feeling that the goal is common and achievable. If large organisations such as Coca-Cola are also committed to recycling, then it must be important and we must be able to do it! It motivates people to do their part: return their empty bottles.

The effect on recycling behaviour

Our effect measurement of the 2019 summer campaign shows that after seeing the campaign, people:

  • Think that recycling is the norm and that recycling is the right thing to do.

  • Feel that recycling is a common and achievable goal.

  • Experience more clarity about what is expected of them with regard to recycling.

  • Have a greater sense that Coca-Cola is responsible and takes responsibility for recycling.

In addition, specifically after seeing the slogan 'Don't buy Coca-Cola if you don't help us recycle':

  • People get the feeling that they can make an impact themselves.

  • The consumer's sense of responsibility also increases.

The Coca-Cola summer campaign, and specifically the billboard with the slogan 'Don't buy Coca-Cola if you don't help us recycle', motivates consumers to recycle. Not by just focusing on the goal, but by looking at the buttons behind it. Why do people return their empty plastic bottles correctly or incorrectly? And how can we specifically push these buttons the right way? By looking at this during the development of a campaign, expression and/or slogan, you make a real impact on behaviour.