Chicago Green Jobs


Truth in Advertising: Humble Oil Tells It Like It Is
November 24, 2009, 10:15 am
Filed under: Creating Green Behavior Change

Quick: which of these two statements makes a better headline?

“If every American household installed a WaterSense labeled toilet, we could save more than 640 billion gallons of water each year.

“If every American household installed a WaterSense labeled toilet, we could save enough water to equal 15 days of flow over Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls, right? That thing is huge! Translating abstract numbers into tangible examples is a core tenet of our approach to inspiring behavior change. It’s basic human psychology: the more real theĀ  consequences of our actions are to us the more likely we are to tweak them.

But there’s nothing new under the sun, and we aren’t the first to hit on this particular tactic. Check out this fabulous ad Humble Oil (now Exxon) ran in a 1962 Life Magazine:

Image available in a 1962 Life Magazine on Google Books

Yup, that’s right: Back then Humble Oil supplied enough energy every day to melt 7 million tons of glacier. Vivid! And who says there isn’t truth in advertising?

Curious to know just how many million tons of glacier Exxon can melt every day right now? Check out Pablo Paster’s excellent analysis on Treehugger.

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