SmartPower, Climate Culture launch PSA to promote green university contest

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Nonprofit marketing company SmartPower and environmental online community Climate Culture are conducting a PSA effort promoting the America's Greenest Campus contest. The PSA stars hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and drives viewers to the initiative's microsite, where users can enter the contest.

More than 20,000 participants — mostly students and faculty — from 460 colleges are competing for one of two prizes: $5,000 to the school that has the most participants, or $5,000 to the school with the greatest carbon footprint reduction. The US Energy Department is funding the contest with a grant.

“The goal of the campaign is to get young people started early thinking about how what they do on a daily basis affects their carbon footprint,” said Chris Bastardi, spokesman for SmartPower.

Once registered on the site, entrants can give examples of how they, or their college, are lowering their carbon footprint by turning off lights when leaving a room, for example. Entrants can also compare their dorm's utility bill from month to month or answer various questions about energy consumption. Climate Culture's parent company, Efficiency 2.0, a green social software provider, can translate those statistics into CO2 emission reductions.

The campaign also makes use of e-mail marketing. When contestants enter the initiative, they must give an e-mail address to receive monthly updates. When users customize profiles on Climate Culture's site, they can opt-in to various e-mail lists. Faculty and heads of campus environmental and sustainability groups serve as group organizers for each university.

In addition to appearing online, the PSA, which first aired September 17, is also running on broadcast networks in New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC. The effort is also using social networks Twitter and Facebook.

The contest will run through October 5, and the winning school will be announced October 14.

Thomas Scaramellino, CEO of Efficiency 2.0, said the Energy Department had previously worked with SmartPower to engage young people about their energy use. The impetus for the contest occurred earlier this year when SmartPower approached Climate Culture to create a unique marketing platform, he said.

He added that his company intends to run a similar contest every year.  

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