George Clooney and I

I spend a lot of time thinking about George Clooney. Not just about his movies, his good looks and obviously intelligent girlfriends, the campaigns he supports or the products he advertises. I also spend time trying to figure whom he appeals to and which of their values he connects with. If I can figure out the fascination so many people have with this famous icon, maybe it can help me in my campaign work.

A bit simplistic you may think, but there is something in people's obsession with George Clooney that we can apply to our work as I will explain below.

A few years ago, Greenpeace did some serious soul-searching. (I know. Some of you who have worked for Greenpeace or watched from afar may wonder how often we actually do this. In fact, quite often.) We did an honest assessment of our campaigns and achievements, particularly the climate campaign.
Don’t get me wrong. Greenpeace, along with thousands of other groups and individuals do great work and, over the decades, we have had some remarkable wins. But many of the important environmental indicators are currently still heading in the wrong direction--for example, global carbon emissions.
Greenpeace put in place a number of changes to see what we could do to improve the work we do and the outcomes. As part of this, we started to use the values segmentation system developed by Cultural Dynamics Strategy and Marketing Ltd (CDSM) to better understand the motivations of our target audiences.
Directly or indirectly, all campaign work is an exercise in motivation. We need to connect with the values of our audiences to motivate them to get engaged, take action, pass information along etc. None of this is news to marketers – they know our hidden beliefs and desires often better than we do and market directly to them.
According to Chris Rose who wrote “What Makes People Tick: The Three Hidden Worlds of Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers,” there are three distinct ways of seeing the world and of evaluating any offer or ask, any campaign or political idea, any past-time, social opportunity or purchase. Basically, according to Chris, “our understanding of the world is determined by meeting, or not yet having met, unconscious needs - of safety and security or identity, or for esteem of others or self-esteem, or for things beyond that such as new ideas, innovations or ethics.”
We all have unmet needs and deeply held values, and we are generally unconscious of them. CDSM has developed a values mapping system enabling us to look beneath our assumptions or opinions to understand what really drives much of our individual behavior, relationships, politics and social dynamics. This and similar systems are based on mapping the fundamental motivations identified by Abraham Maslow.
CDSM breaks down populations into three main motivational groups which campaigners can use to design and plan campaigns: Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers. Settlers are driven by a need for safety, security, identity and belonging. If these needs are fully met, we move on to meet our needs of self-esteem or esteem of others: in other words, getting recognition and approval from others. This group is called Prospectors. When the need for self-esteem is met, we move on to Pioneers, the final group, who are driven by a need for ethics, making connections, exploration, ethics, justice and new
Fuller descriptions include:
The more I learn about values, the more I have come to understand that using values will help us get more people engaged and, ultimately, bigger wins.
The lack of a meeting outcome at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, for example, made many of us realize that we are still talking to the same people – Pioneers. They are the same group of people with the same values. The point is that almost all of the calls for climate action come from just one bit of the values map. We are less likely to get big, fundamental change with only one values group involved as politicians keep hearing and seeing the same thing from the same group of people – a minority in almost all countries.
I often hear campaigners say “But we need to engage everyone.” Really? Does your strategy, your power analysis and your critical pathway indicate you need to engage “everyone”? If this is your strategy, it is likely you will fail because you cannot easily or effectively target “the public” as a group with one campaign push. Not with three very distinct values groups in society.
If we want to communicate effectively with the people we are targeting in our work, and get them to take action, we need to start with where they are, communicating to the values that will drive them to take action. The aim of using values is not to pigeonhole or criticize people with different values – it is to help us communicate our issues in a way that matches their existing values.
In the U.S., recent research indicates the two largest values groups are Pioneers and Prospectors, both with “loud values” which is where much of the tension in public debates comes from. This has interesting implications for how groups campaign in the U.S.
Which brings me back to George Clooney. I know. I wasn’t able to stop thinking about him for very long. Which values group do you think he resonates with? Why?
His is certainly a broader group than the usual suspects some of our campaigns currently target. If we want deep, fundamental change, we will need more than just Pioneers and the occasional Prospector becoming engaged. Research clearly shows the majority of the population care about many of our issues. Our challenge is to run campaigns that talk more consistently to their values.
Catherine Fitzpatrick is deputy director of communications at Greenpeace East Asia. In her spare time, she heads out to explore the wild parts of the Great Wall of China, only a few hours from the Greenpeace office in Beijing.
Values Modes run by the UK based company CDSM is one of several systems developed for marketing and communications strategy which categorize us by motivation rather than class, age, income etc. Check your own values mode by visiting