This post is part of a blogging series by marketing students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here.
By Bryan J. Mascioli
You’ve heard about the patches of plastic pollution littering our oceans. Perhaps you’ve even considered an eco-trip to go see them for your next vacation! Joking aside, plastic pollution is a major problem. Even worse, the fact that there are patches of floating plastic in the oceans that are several times the size of Texas really sucks, literally; yes, I mean literally, like a vacuum. In June of 2010, Electrolux, the home appliance maker, launched a new campaign called “Vac from the Sea” that aims to raise “awareness about the immediate need for the world to take better care of plastics and support the heroes that do.” Imagine trolling the seas for plastic to recycle into vacuum cleaners and you have the concept for the initiative launched by Electrolux.
One point to highlight in this initiative is that Electrolux is tackling an egregious problem and doing so in a way that markets its business. Is this exploiting a problem for self-serving interests? One could argue this point. However, I consider Electrolux a great example of the synergies that lie between business and sustainability. What’s more is that Electrolux is not just talking about doing something green and rebranding itself. The company actually has sailing vessels out there on the ocean conducting research and collecting plastic. From this it has created a limited line of five vacuum cleaners, representing the five oceans, and each with a design made up of plastic from its respective ocean.
This is a great lesson for all you marketers out there looking to greenify your marketing and brand; be authentic. There is no better counter-example of this than BP. Consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to green washing and if your green marketing plan includes the use of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, you better be authentic or you’ll hear about it, a thousand retweets at a time.
Still, at the heart of Electrolux’s great green marketing campaign is a real problem. Plastic has become synonymous with the throw-away culture that we’ve molded into. However, it’s not the throwing away that’s the issue. It’s the fact that an item with toxic properties made from petroleum that lasts indefinitely is what we use to make our throw away stuff.
So, now for the fun interactive part of what you can do; short of buying a new vacuum (vacuum cleaners will not actually be sold)! Electrolux has partnered with the heroes who are already out there doing the work to protect the oceans. Take a moment to visit their “What You Can Do” site for links to these incredible organizations. While you’re there also check out the blog from the field, or more appropriately, the ocean.