When I was 12 I went on a swimming trip to Dallas, saw Southfork Ranch, had steak for breakfast, ate ribs bigger than my arm, bought a Stetson, all the things you would expect. I also saw this a fair bit:
It's one of the most successful public information campaigns of all time. Texas has a big problem with litter on it's highways. and was frustrated with the failure of some very expensive and very useless advertising campaigns to persuade citizens to change their behaviour.
The problem? The audience were youngish people not exactly impressed with bureaucrats telling them what to do. Which is the problem with most government communications to young people and people in general.
The solution? A behavioural economics idea. Harness the power of the herd, generate group think, make it a positive thing to do, rather than 'stop doing something bad'....make it feel like the social norm.
The strategy? Harness the deep and universal civic pride Texans have for their state. They got Willie Nelson and the Dallas Cowboys to growl 'Don't mess with Texas' and made if feel like littering was an affront to Texan pride.
It took on a life of it's own - you could get car stickers, mugs, posters, the lot. I was actually given a mug in my welcome pack when I arrived.
In six years, roadside littering was reduced by 72%. Which speaks for itself.
The lesson? I think this stands for all kinds of brands communications. Don't tell people what to do, give them something to join in with. And if you want them to stop doing something, don't have a go at them, make is seem like a positive act that everyone else does or wants to do. That's what so good about Web 2.0 stuff, you're not limited to 'telling' a community, you can create one.