The winners of Progressive Investor’s 2007 Sustainable Business 20 were just announced in Business Week. This annual award goes to “companies that pursue environmentally sensitive goals while simultaneously improving their financial performance.”
Consumer facing brands who were named in the 20 included Philips, Nike, Canon, Herman Miller, Groupe Danone, Wholefoods and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. There are also great companies on the industrial and resource side like Interface, Land Securities, Precious Wood and the obligatory list of energy efficiency and renwables innovators.
The one brand which leapt out at me as an anomoly was Nike. They have such a bad name (eg in Karen Fraser’s ethical reputation index, ranked near the bottom next to Shell and McDonalds) yet are consistently picked in green consumer guides as being among the best these days in the sports apparel industry; and this report says they are among the 20 leaders in world sustainable business. I’ve not seen such a clear case of a brand needing to revise opinion in line with a new reality since Skoda’s turnaround. Perhaps Nike need a partnership or relationship to pull themselves out though (like Skoda had VW) it’s really hard to revise opinions when its just the brand telling you that they have changed (like Volvo is now “sexy” apparently).
Another thing they could consider is changing the logo or playing with their symblism at that iconic level. From phallic tick to something which represents the feminine (see statue of the goddess Nike, above – she looks like an angel, no?) Anyway, it’s time for Nike to come out of the sustainability closet methinks.
Posted by J Grant