Changing Perceptions at Chevy: Feedback Please

The following is a guest post by our friends at Bard College’s MBA in Sustainability Program (a 3p sponsor) – for the business leaders of the future who recognize the importance of all business moving towards true sustainability—economic, environmental, and social.

Eban Goodstein, Director, Bard MBA in Sustainability

I am part of a team of volunteer sustainability advisors working with Chevrolet, and we need your help. Chevy has set aside $40 million from their marketing budget to reduce CO2, roughly, equivalent to the emissions from a year’s worth of vehicle sales: up to 8 million tons.

Why?  GM has sold off their Hummer Division, and under new management, is interested to see what a sustainability-centered strategy would mean for a car company.   Chevy has a respectable history in terms of sustainability investments in manufacturing, and has recently produced two new, high mileage cars—the Cruz Eco and the Sonic.  And now with the Volt, the company can claim serious leadership in driving towards an ultimately sustainable vehicle future: electric cars powered by clean energy.

A key part of any sustainability strategy is engaging a community of leading edge consumers, Prius buyers if you will. Thus Chevy’s unusual marketing effort organized around clean energy and forestry investments in communities across America. These include innovative energy efficiency projects for low income housing in Maine, wind farms in South Dakota, and tree-planting projects in Colorado.

Here’s where you come in. We need your feedback on how this is all affecting you, the target demographic.  One element of Chevy’s strategy has been to produce a series of videos telling these different community stories. The videos are all introduced by futurist and physicist Dr. Michio Kaku talking about climate change and the need for carbon reduction.  My favorite is the Maine energy efficiency video, in part because one of my Masters students, Lucy van Hook, helped develop the innovative offset methodology used there.

Our team would be grateful if you would watch a couple of these videos, and tell us, frankly, what you think. Could these stories make a difference in perceptions of Chevrolet? Embracing sustainability is a tall order for a company whose products currently burn a lot of carbon, but a $40 million experiment with marketing dollars is not small change and GM has already reduced its own manufacturing GHG emissions by 60% over the last several decades. What could Chevy do better to get the word out about this pioneering effort, and get an early win from this sustainability investment?

Look forward to your comments.

The Bard MBA in Sustainability is a MBA program for the business leaders of the future who recognize the importance of all business moving towards true sustainability—economic, environmental, and social. Learn more at www.bard.edu/mba.

With thanks to igloowhite and nrmadriversseat for the photos.

The Bard MBA in Sustainability focuses on the business case for sustainability. We train students to see how firms can integrate economic, environmental, and social objectives, the triple Bottom Line, to create successful businesses that build a more sustainable world. Graduates of the Bard MBA Program will transform existing companies, start their own businesses, and pioneer new ways of operating that meet human needs, while protecting and restoring the earth’s natural systems. The Bard MBA is a low-residency program structured around “weekend intensives” with regular online instruction between these residencies. Five of these intensives are held each term: four in the heart of New York City and one in the Hudson Valley. Residencies take place over four days, beginning Friday morning, and ending Monday afternoon. Learn more today.