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Posts Tagged ‘Green Marketing’

Earth Day is approaching, and with it, waves of unease in the blogosphere. Echoing one of my earlier posts, ‘Green Festival or Celebration of Green Consumption?‘, an article in Ad Age this morning, raises the question of ‘Is Earth Day the New Christmas?‘.

Consumerism pervades our entire culture, we know that. And Earth Day is not exception. In the absence, still, of strict FTC guidelines, marketers are going to go wild with greenwashing on April 22nd. Newsweek, Target, Banana Republic, Macy’s, Toys’R’Us, Sweet Leaf Tea, Fairmont Hotels, Barbie dolls, Wal-Mart, Clorox, are amongst some of the companies that will ‘celebrate’ green, according to the Ad Age article.

I say, we go back to the original spirit of Earth Day, and we use the day as another ‘no shopping day‘ instead. Will you join me?

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Last night, I had the privilege to sit down at a dinner with the leaders of Danone Water. Rarely have I met business people with such a passion for their work. The reason is very simple. As Danone employees, they are not just in the business of selling yogurt or mineral water. More importantly, they are in a social enterprise, involved in the global mission of sharing life-sustaining knowledge and resources with people in less fortunate countries. Specifically, I want to highlight the Danone Communities initiative, how it works, and why it is such a great sustainability model for other companies. Here, is a description, from the company’s website:

Combining the expertise of Danone in health foods and the experience of Grameen in micro-credits for deprived populations, in November 2006, Grameen Danone Foods launched a yoghurt called Shoktidoi, designed to provide a response to the nutritional needs of Bangladeshi children at an affordable price.

Produced in the first Grameen Danone Foods plant in Bogra, Shoktidoi is sold at a price of 5 BDT for each portion of 80g (ie 6 euro cents) and can be bought regularly by even the poorest families. At the same time, its composition has been specially designed to make up for the nutritional deficiencies that many Bangladeshi children suffer from. Reduced from cow’s milk produced locally and date molasses, Shoktidoi contains the natural calcium proteins needed for growth and bone solidity. Also enriched in micronutrients, an 80 gram pot is enough to cover 30% of daily needs for a child in vitamin A , iron, zinc and iodine.

Danone Communities Grameen Ladies

In the Bogra plant, use of machinery is kept to a minimum in order to promote the use of labour which should mean that the plant will be able to employ 50 full-time workers within four years. Grameen Danone foods also relies on developing micro-farms which supply the raw materials (milk, sugar, date molasses) used to produce Shoktidoi. Local farmers also benefit from micro-credits offered by the Grameen Bank to start up or expand their businesses, while DANONE provides its expertise to help farmers improve the quality of their production. Lastly, Grameen Danone Foods has created an original distribution system based on the so-called “Grameen Ladies” who, supplied by small wholesalers, make sales door-to-door. This activity should provide income to more than 1,600 persons within a radius of 30 km around the plant.

Protection of the environment for local communities and use of renewable energy are part of the community business model developed by Grameen Danone Foods. The Bogra plant for example has a solar water heater which supplies hot water used in cleaning the installation and preheating water for the main boilers.

To reduce the risk of depleting groundwater levels, the site has also been equipped with a rainwater recovery system. Both of these measures help mitigate the environmental impact of the project but also the energy bill for the company! In terms of recycling and packaging, Grameen Danone has also made firm commitments: Shoktidoi pots are produced with PLA (Poly Lactic Acid), a material made of cornstarch and entirely biodegradable.

I was also told by the Danone people that all Danone employees get a chance to participate in the company’s funding of the Grameen initiative. No wonder the Danone people feel so good about working there. Can you think of examples of other companies whose stories you find inspiring?

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All green marketers would do well to take note of Nielsen Online‘s new report just mentioned in Ad Age this morning. According to Jessica Hogue, research director at Nielsen Online, and author of the report, “Corporations can’t do everything in one feel swoop, but need to be authentic and transparent about the steps they are taking,” She also suggests brands, study Footprint Chronicles, Patagonia‘s recent interactive online campaign, that discloses the company’s both environmental good works and sins.

Nielsen Report Says Green Marketers Better Be Authentic and Transparent

It’s time brands understand that they are in a relationship with their citizen customers.

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Jeff Huggins suggested I take a look at the new, ‘Clearing the Air‘ video from Shell Oil:

My first reaction was, how sweet and clever! What a great way to get people engaged in some otherwise boring, ‘clean’ tech story. The guy looks like Hugh Grant, and frankly, I am always a sucker for good old fashioned romance, complete with intrigue, exotic settings, and candlelight dinners. The entire 7′ film went by very fast, and I could have endured a lot more . . .

Still, I could smell greenwashing, and decided to do a bit of investigation. I did not have to go very far. One can always count on readers to surface the truth. Here, for your enjoyment, are some comments on a recent post on Green Car Congress, that featured Shell GTL technology:

‘GTL is a nightmare in CO2 terms as it wastes so much energy in making it. Don’t go there!!!

‘Yes it is a nightmare, but it requires no worries when using the fuel so a company can pretend they are researching alternative fuel uses while using it. If airbus were trying out bio fuels that would be a different matter. Then they would have to worry about compatibility and other problems. Thus GTL is the safe, easy way to pretend you are doing something.’

‘In addition to wasting energy producing it, if it’s from natural gas, it’s both a fossil fuel (not renewable), and not carbon neutral (so it does nothing about global warming).

Unless they are serious about sourcing second generation biofuels it does look like greenwashing. Funny because the A380 must use immense volumes of fuel.’

You get the picture . . .

Content set aside, the ‘Clearing the Air‘ video taps into an important psychological opportunity for climate fight messaging, and green communication in general. The eco-hero archetype is emerging from our collective unconscious, and elevating the climate fight to new heights, turning it into the mythical adventure of the 21st century.

Al Gore, speaking at the recent TED talks: ‘What we need is a hero generation’

 

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Who said environmental activism has to be serious? I just got this mail from Ryan Watkins-Hughes:

I just stumbled across your idea for Greendropping. Very clever. Below is information about an upcoming shopdropping project I’m doing. Please feel free to pass along to people you think would be interested. Thanks.

RWH
http://www.shopdropping.net
http://www.watkinshughes.com

———————————-
SHOPDROPPING.NET is now calling on artists, designers, media makers, and creative folks to purchase greeting cards and alter them in any way they see fit. Any form of commercial card, from wedding to graduation to birthday to bereavement, is eligible. But clever and witty will be given preference over easy and distasteful.

Please submit JPEG reproductions of the altered greeting cards to submissions@shopdropping.net with GREETINGS as the subject line.

All files must be sized to 1024 x 768 at 72 dpi. Each altered card must include the text “www.shopdropping.net” somewhere in the new design. It can be discreet, on the back of the card, and unobtrusive but it must be present.When submitting the cover and inside of the same card please indicate this clearly in the file titles (for example “cover.jpg”, “page2.jpg”).

The deadline for submissions is April 1st 2008.

Once all of the digital reproductions have been submitted, selected artists will be given the address of a fellow participant to swap cards with. The cards will then be shopdropped back into circulation and the digital reproductions will be featured on SHOPDROPPING.NET. Please do not submit digital files if you do not intend to follow through with the act of shopdropping a fellow participant’s work. The digital reproductions are a means to select and document the artworks, but do not replace the act of shopdropping the originals into unsuspecting stores.

I am on my way to the stationary store . . . Will you join me? Of course my card is going to have some green subversive message embedded into it. I urge you to do the same.

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Continuing our thread of conversations on climate fight messaging, I would like to spend some time discussing possible targeting strategies. While it is true that global warming is a problem that concerns us all, in the interest of efficiency, it makes senses to go after those groups of people who are most likely to be persuaded positively. If we were to use a traditional ‘shades of green‘ segmentation model, the obvious choice would be to go after people who are on the fence, not the minority of green enthusiasts – people like you and me -, not the uninterested, but the people who see global warming as an issue, and who need to be pushed into action. While being the correct target, it leaves us with not enough to go by in terms of executing a campaign.

A more interesting strategy, in my opinion, uses a combination of psychographic and demographic descriptors to identify high potential targets. I got the idea of considering demographic segments, from Mary Hunt. Mary has chosen to focus her efforts on women, the ones in the household who are responsible for 80% of the buying. Makes sense doesn’t it, when like Mary, you are trying to educate the public about sustainable standards for high ticket, high environmental impact items such as flooring and furniture? Of equal importance is the need to communicate with people on an emotional level. The global warming message has made it into people’s heads, but has failed to grab them by the heart. Appeals to morality and civic environmental duty can only go so far. People have to feel moved into action.

Environmentalists have to stop talking to themselves, and need to go out to segments of the population outside of the green landscape, groups of people who because of their natural interests or life situations, are most likely to emotionally connect emotionally with the climate fight. Based on months of exploration and conversations with readers, these are the clusters that seem to make the most sense:

  1. Mothers are programmed to take care of their young ones. Any threat to their children’s health and survival triggers powerful responses. ‘You mean my children may not be able to enjoy clean air, and the good life we have taken for granted so far?’
  2. Believers‘s morality is tied into their faith. If they perceive global warming as the result of man’s sinful handling of God’s creation, it becomes their responsibility to redeem themselves through restorative actions. ‘God has given us this Earth; it is for us to protect.’
  3. Business leaders care about the bottom line, a lot. Once they realize the path to sustainability is also good for their bottom line, they can become some of the fiercest warriors of the climate fight. ‘Green is good.’
  4. Nature enthusiasts have a deep connection with nature. Birders cringe when they read about land-bird species at the risk of becoming extinct, as a result of global warming. ‘Do you know how beautiful birds are? We can’t let this happen.’
  5. The overweight crowd are putting their lives on the line every day with their unhealthy lifestyles. They are getting the message to: eat less, and less processed foods and less meat, drive less, watch less TV, walk or bike more. ‘If not for the planet, maybe for themselves?’

So many ways to slice the pie . . . Which of these people would you be most willing to bet on?

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On February 16th, hundreds of people gathered at Trafalgar Square, all volunteers recruited for a covert performance. At exactly 3.30 pm, on a secret cue, they all froze and held their positions for 5 minutes:

Now imagine, if the same performance took place simultaneously in strategic places all over the world, and at the end of the five minutes, all performers delivered a message about the climate fight?

Maybe the message is a request for all spectators to do one simple thing. Like walking the next time they have to travel a short distance. The real beauty of such performances is what happens next on YouTube.

During the ten days since it was first downloaded, ‘The Day London Froze‘ video has been viewed 559,ooo times, favorited 3,715 times, and commented on 2,588 times.

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