PR Student: Matthew Maddix
This article was produced in cooperation with the COMMS 425 lab.
“Why is there a purple Y on the mountain?” was the most common question asked during the half-time of the 2017 BYU versus University of Utah football game. That is exactly what BYU advertising program senior, Nick Huey, was hoping for when he led nearly 50 students up the mountain east of campus, to light the Y during the football game.
Huey co-founded The Climate Campaign and teamed up with BYU and Utah students to initiate a healthy and productive conversation on climate change. “We chose purple because that is what you get when you mix the colors of BYU and U of U,” Huey said.
By uniting the Utes and Cougars, The Climate Campaign hopes to show that Republicans and Democrats can unite on this issue as well. “[Climate change] is a people issue, not a party issue. This has nothing to do with the left. It is just about humanity.”
Huey explained that climate change is a topic that many Utah residents may not feel comfortable talking about because it has been a “liberal issue.” Huey’s partner and co-founder at the U of U, Colin Green, said, “I’ve been struggling to make climate change a tangible issue for people, and Huey’s idea to play off the rivalry to make it personal for people has worked really well.”
Huey said his advertising background gave him the skills to run this campaign. “Advertising is the persuasion of the masses, and climate change is a human problem that is caused by the masses,” said Huey.
The Climate Campaign uses creative communication to reach out to community leaders. “Normally people just send a letter, email, or phone call—but when you make the news, it is a lot easier to reach your elected representatives,” Huey said.
The Climate Campaign has executed several creative communication tactics to kick off the campaign. Huey and a group of BYU students put 3,500 purple flowers on Utah students’ cars and challenged them to participate in the campaign.
In response, Green and a group of U of U students placed purple flowers at the feet of the Brigham Young statue on BYU campus with a sign that read: “This is the place to unite on climate change.”
All of these creative communications tactics were to generate attention and start a public conversation about climate change in Utah. “Politicians don’t want to even say the word climate change because they don’t want to get voted out of office. We can’t solve a problem if they don’t want to talk about it,” said Huey.
Although no laws have been passed yet, The Climate Campaign is hopeful that people are starting to chew on their message. By thinking outside the box with its creative communications, The Climate Campaign has reached nearly every major news outlet within Utah.
The Climate Campaign encourages positive, solution-driven conversations about climate change rather than the “death and dying” that has commonly been the dialogue said Green.
This project aims to unite the community to make it a healthier environment for everyone. “I think people are pretty great and I want to keep existing with everyone,” said Green.
To learn more about The Climate Campaign, visit theclimatecampaign.com.