Green consumerism is about the impact of what a company has DONE, be it in retailing, transport, manufacture, retailing, employment, raw materials… It is not about appearances it is about facts. Facts can be only partly known at any time, and you may have to use your emotional intelligence to weigh up the options and apply a bit of common sense judgement, but that doesnt make it a branded choice.
I’ve been playing around with some ideas for a journal article I am supposed to submit to a sponsorship publication about green marketing. And I must admit I am struggling. The trouble is not just green sponsorship (which all too easily looks like greenwash). It’s actually much deeper…
I believe in green marketing
I believe in green market categories
I believe in green labels and regimes
I am not sure I believe in ‘green brands’
More to the point I’m not sure green is a ‘brand sort of thing’
For example Apple computers appear green but are the least green of all the electronics companies according to 3 Greenpeace sector reports in a row. Lenovo (Chinese) appears un-green but in fact is the most green choice according to the same report. It is mostly down to the choice of materials.
Establishing new lifestyle behaviours, making wierd choices that work seem normal, pushing the pace of change, educating your market… there are lots of imaginative roles for marketing. But they are not really classical brand strategies; the act of making something industrial and anodyne appear to have a personality; eg Mr Kipling, who if the truth be known, neither baked exceedingly good cakes, nor actually existed!
Back at my headline – real greens actually should buy Persil and similar modern detergent brands according to Julia Hailes’ new Green Consumer Guide. What’s more you really should buy the bio version. that’s because water companies “are no longer greatly concerned about detergent waste”. So the important thing is to wash your clothes in cold water. Hence the most effective, and preferably concentrated (less packaging waste, less to transport) detergent is the greenest choice. As someone who has trued to buy Ecover when possible for quite a while that comes as fairly major news. But then you just shrug and go; okay so now we know that we need to buy Persil Bio Concentrate, so lets do that instead. It’s not a brand thing.
Sponsorship has been evolving too. Modern sponsorships are about brands doing interesting things with partners and the audience. There’s a competition launching next week on bebo, with Nike, for hiphop dancing. Similarly Starbucks has been hosting coffee house challenges to stimulate local community schemes (my friend Mark at Ymogen is hosting one of these next week in Islington). That’s not about Stabucks ‘looking good’. It’s about them doing good. There’s lots of examples in my new book of brands collaborating with customers which simply builds relationships and achieves results; without needing to evoke nebulous terms such as brand image. One example is actually Ariel’s Wash at 30 campaign.
Anyway i would love to get some input on green sponsorships; good/bad/indifferent?
Maybe there are examples which present a more positive role for brands as ‘patrons of green’?
To be continued…
Posted by J Grant