Changing behaviour by making it fun

Popped over to Living Brands, the blog of Jon Howard from agency Quietstorm, after having finally met him in a client workshop for Richmond sausages. And I was rewarded with a great post about changing consumer behaviour using fun, via Charles at Punk Planning. I posted on this subject a while back, about how Amsterdam Schipol airport get men to pee straight by drawing a little fly on each urinal.

The post is about a very cool website called "The Fun Theory" which is done by VW. It looks at how fun can be used to change consumer behaviour for the better. This is really a big idea. You can waste bags of money and time trying to force people to change, and get nowhere. Think of the gazillions spent on telling people to eat properly, and yet obesity rates continue to climb. Much better to make it easy, and even fun, for people to change.

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The first example is about how you get people to use the stairs rather than the escaltor as a nice easy way of staying fit. By making it fun to climb the stairs, with piano key-like steps that lit up and played a tune, they got hundreds of people to use them. This hits a real nerve, as shown by over 4million views on YouTube. Click below if you are on the blog, or here to watch it on YouTube.

The second example is getting people to recycle glass bottles. By making the bottle bank like a slot machine in a casino they boosted usage from 2 people per day to 100. A 50 time increase in behaviour.

So, if you want to change consumer behaviour, make it fun and easy. For example, innocent have made it nice and easy to get 2 of your 5 fruit and veg a day with their smoothies. And though I've expressed doubt about the business model of their veg pots, they make it nice and easy to get another 3 of you fruit and veg portions.

The thing I'm not sure about is if this does anything for VW. You have to go from YouTube to the Fun Theory website to get any VW branding. I know you don't want to be too in-your-face, but this is very subtle. Also, the Fun Theory site is supposed to have lots of examlpes, with people voting. Up to now there are only 3, and the contest ends mid November.