In early May, Chelsea Amato and I, freshly arrived and excited about our internships, were given the task of reviving RE3.org’s identity, with Annie Hah, an intern already in the division. Something “never seen before,” as our supervisor Kelley Dennings described. RE3 is a recycling campaign developed a few years ago by the former Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance (now the new Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach).
So we had at it. It took us a while to understand what exactly was wanted and also needed. We researched various recycling programs aimed at RE3’s demographic. We researched all the possible cultures and drew up concepts, but didn’t come up with much material that would help us. Mid-summer, all the interns met in our little intern office and just spit out ideas. We had good ideas, bad ideas and copycat ideas. Eventually, we all came up with guidelines that we felt would work.
1. There would be a thought bubble connected with an anthropomorphic shape. This thought bubble would have to be able to be placed in various positions, spray painted, stenciled and be seen at extra small and extra large sizes.
2. The shape connected to the thought bubble would be a human-like form, but not a photo. The RE3 “Kenny Campaign’” done a few years ago had a lot of impact on this decision. The African American student, named Kenny, in the original RE3 campaign was a paid actor. He was in some of our commercials, posters, truck ads and on our web-site but we couldn’t hire him to do events and new advertisements each year.
Chelsea, Annie and I set to work. All this was concurrent with other duties, so it took awhile to finally deliver a product. The week before our fall semester started, we met with Kelley to present our ideas. We decided to refine and adjust the ideas. We then sent out a survey asking for feedback on two versions of the possible Avatars and their thought bubble counterparts. Combined with the survey responses and further Kelley refinements, we came to what I present today, the new RE3.org Avatars. The thought bubble is a simple shape, easy to draw and cut out if need be. Pleas or urgings to recycle would be placed inside it. At times, sarcastic or apathetic remarks would also be placed in the thought bubble, with the tagline “go recycle” underneath. We did this to help the viewer understand the lack of sincerity in the words inside the bubble and aid them in recognizing the importance of recycling.
The Avatar was a tough item to come up with. We didn’t want something too generic, so our shapes had to be somewhat different. These are designed to be recognized by the RE3 demographic but not too culturally biased as to represent one specific subculture within that age group. We designed the two characters to also be easily placed in different positions (throwing recyclables into the bin, biking, etc).
These new Avatars will be unveiled at this year’s State Fair. If you walk around and see them by recycling bins or chalked out on the ground, take a photo and tell us via Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. Mention us and we’ll post it up on our pages. Help us get the word out about our new Avatar. Also, when you go by the Green NC area and visit our station at the NC State Fair, you could get your picture taken with a RE3.org Avatar and thought bubble. But that’s not all. We’re going to have a lot of cool interactive exhibits and you can learn a bit, too. We’d love to talk to you. Any questions or comments, please stop by the fair or leave a note!
See you at the Fair!
- Jonathan Stephens