3p Contributor: Gennefer Gross

Gennefer Gross is a writer, producer and co-founder of Gross Factor Productions, an independent film and television company focused on scripted comedy. An avid writer, author and idea cultivator, Gennefer thrives on creativity and contributes regularly to Triple Pundit on a variety of sustainable business topics. She also pens the popular series Hollywood & Green, exploring socially responsible cinema that helps connect consumers with important causes and environmental issues. And somehow she finds the time to write for her own blog, Tasty Beautiful, covering food and fashion in and around Los Angeles. Gennefer will also be launching Philanthrofoodie(TM), a charitable venture designed to spark social change through shared food experiences. An eternal student of life with an eclectic background, Gennefer brings unique insights on everything from breakthroughs in renewable energy to the latest dish in celebrity consciousness.

Recent Articles

Clean Energy Gets the Celebrity Treatment

| Monday February 1st, 2010 | 2 Comments

hollywood & green
Clean energy has been a highly charged issue in legislation, but with Obama’s recent pledge to reduce CO2 emissions 28 percent by 2020, The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) Action Fund has stepped up with a celebrity campaign to educate consumers about the issue and urge them to email their Senators to pass the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act.

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Syfy Creates a “Sanctuary” for Kids

| Tuesday November 17th, 2009 | 2 Comments

hollywood & green
S4K_logoThere are few things more influential than entertainment, and the ability for characters (and the celebs who portray them) to drive retail consumption and inform pop culture. Every generation has spawned a myriad of fads from Farah Fawcett’s feathered bangs to Jennifer Aniston’s signature “Rachel” haircut to iPods, mobile apps, the vampire craze and Ashton Kutcher’s popularization of Twitter. Even Mad Men’s 60s style has infiltrated the Gap and Banana Republic, along with Brooks Brothers’ limited edition suit (which is absolutely gorgeous, by the way).

While these are superficial elements, what’s powerful about trends is that they spark conversations, evoke emotions, and make a memorable mark on the individuals who embrace them. And I’ve often said that this same process can be replicated by harnessing the power of entertainment for social good, which is exactly what SyFy’s television series, Sanctuary, is doing with their new endeavor, “Sanctuary For Kids” (S4K), a call back to their tagline, “Sanctuary For All.” According to the website, the mission of Sanctuary for Kids is “to improve the lives of children around the world who need protection and are in crisis – those who are exploited, dispossessed and threatened.”

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Liberty Mutual Responsibility Project Conjures Laughs AND Consciousness

| Thursday November 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment

hollywood & green
liberty-mutual-RPI haven’t been blogging too much ’round these parts lately, mostly because I’ve been busy creating the types of videos and films I’m about to feature, but Liberty Mutual’s latest short, “Good Vibrations” made me stop in my tracks so I decided to make the time to share it with all of you. (No need to thank me.)

It’s part of their Responsibility Project to get consumers to act more responsibly. Obviously, it serves an insurance company well to have responsible policy holders, but if you look deeper, you’ll realize that these messages, ensconced in entertainment, actually serve the greater good, too.

The video below had me positively riveted for the full four minutes, a mix of that awkward laughter that unexpectedly bursts out when someone trips and the cringe of the inevitable guilt that follows. It’s funny and sweet, and leaves you newly inspired to keep the karmic flow of the universe going.

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It’s My Birthday and I’ll Give If I Want To

| Monday October 26th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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SloaneOver the summer, I featured a remarkable woman, Sloane Berrent as part of my Philanthropy in Five series, who has literally dedicated her life to doing good, spreading good and seeing the good in others. It’s rare to find someone who walks the walk and talks the talk, but Sloane definitely puts her money where her mouth is — or, in this case, where her birthday cake is!

This year, to commemorate the big 3-0, Sloane, along with her friend, Doug Campbell, who was also turning 30 within days of her birthday (October 3rd and 5th, respectively), decided they wanted to do something memorable that not only celebrated life and the beginning of their 30s, but also included a strong charitable component. Both are avid social change agents, Doug most known for a worldwide tour raising money for nonprofits called ‘The Tuxedo Travels’ and Sloane whose latest cause adventure took her to the rural Phillipines for a 3-month fellowship with the microlending nonprofit, KIVA, so a cause campaign was a no brainer for this dynamic duo of do-goodery.

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Live Earth Shows If You Love the Climate, It’ll Love You Back

| Friday September 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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lovetheclimateThere’s a lot of doom and gloom out there when it comes to the climate change issue, ranging from mild concern to full scale panic, but Live Earth decided to take a different approach with their “Love, the Climate” initiative. From September 15th through September 25th, you can give the environment a voice by sharing creative messages that will be used to help communicate the importance of passing the Climate Bill to senators, and motivate them to take action in a compelling, optimistic way.

As someone who’s developed a series of exercises that anthropomorphize brand traits to help devise resonant marketing strategies, a program like this is right up my alley. Personification is a powerful tool for driving key messages home in a memorable way. And what could be more fun than cooking up fun stories and vignettes for what the environment might say, like Shira Lazar’s sunflower love scene below?

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Social Change Talk with Jon Kaplan, President of Walden University

| Friday September 11th, 2009 | 15 Comments

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learn-main-photo A few weeks ago, I featured Walden University’s new advertising campaign, centering around their social change-focused brand positioning: “A higher degree. A higher purpose.” I was instantly struck by their TV spot because they put their money where their tagline is in demonstrating the end result of a Walden University degree, and spotlighting the change that is possible when you choose an institution aimed at serving the greater good.

The goal is to attract like-minded individuals whose core values align with Walden’s, and they are, in turn, committed to equipping those agents of change with the practical tools they’ll need toward becoming the leaders of tomorrow. The campaign is inspirational without coming off cheesy, so I decided to learn more about the vision behind it in an informative interview with President, Jon Kaplan. And with the level of dedication they put forth in facilitating avenues for positive change, the next time you meet someone who’s making a difference, they may just have a Walden University diploma hanging on their wall.

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The Wild, Wild (Green) West

| Thursday September 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hollywood & green

Filmmaker David Dibble checks his Super 8 mm camera during a film festival promo shoot in Hanford. <em>Photo credit: Hanford Sentinel</em>

Filmmaker David Dibble checks his Super 8 mm camera on during a film festival promo shoot in Hanford.

Recently I covered the launch of the Going Green Film Festival, spotlighting sustainable cinema and filmmaking practices that preserve and protect the environment. The first of its kind, it’s shining a light on Green Hollywood, and bringing this important category to the foreground, right down to their advertising. Literally.

Building on the festival’s slogan of “Rethink, Replenish, Recommit,” David Dibble, an LA-based filmmaker and his crew are re-enacting the wild, wild west. With an eco-conscious marshal. “It’s a typical high-noon Clint Eastwood situation, where you’ve got a marshal and a bad guy’s coming into town,” Dibble said. But in this town, the outlaws recycle.

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Disney Spotlights Everyday Superheroes of Change

| Tuesday September 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hollywood & green
friends-for-changeThe blogosphere’s been a-buzz the past few days about Disney’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of Marvel, but there hasn’t been much press about the million dollars in donations they’re planning as part of their “Friends for Change” initiative. In fact, though I hesitate to admit this publicly, if I hadn’t gotten sucked into The Jonas Brothers marathon on the Disney channel over the long weekend, I wouldn’t even have known about it. Granted, I’m not their target audience, but after digging deeper, it’s actually a worthwhile program that makes effective use of popular icons like Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers in making kids and teens aware of the important issues facing our planet in a memorable way.

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Hollywood Uses the Vampire Craze to Promote Blood Donation

| Tuesday August 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hollywood & green
vampire-fangsThere’s no denying that there are few things more influential than Hollywood. From blockbuster movies to TV shows to the latest in celebrity fashion, these things inform popular culture, and leave an emotional impact on us. So, imagine the vast possibilities of harnessing the power of the entertainment industry to generate awareness of important social and environmental issues and make a difference. The American Red Cross recognizes the tremendous opportunity to seize a mainstream audience through entertainment, and in partnership with the CW’s promotions for their new series, ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ they are launching a full scale blood drive. The campaign’s tagline is ‘Starve a Vampire. Donate Blood.’ and will “take place on more than 230 high school and college campuses around the country,” according to Stephanie Millian, director for biomedical communications at the Red Cross in Washington.

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The Little Lunchbox That Could

| Friday August 21st, 2009 | 4 Comments

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When I was younger, the most difficult thing to get a kid to do was eat brussel sprouts. And even when Peter claimed to like them on the Brady Bunch, it was still a tough sell. So, imagine how difficult it is to get kids to eat healthy nowadays, or more importantly, get them to recycle and pay attention to the environment. Well, Goodbyn, a new eco-start up, aims to do just that with a creative lunchbox that organizes lunch in ways that invite healthy preparation and is fun for kids!

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IndieGoGo: Cause Awareness Through Entertainment

| Monday August 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hollywood & green

Documentary-Filmmaker The social web has opened the floodgates of communication, allowing users from all over the world to share knowledge, meet new people and connect with a multitude of content from breaking news to causes to movies and everything in between. Nonprofits, in particular, have met with much success harnessing the power of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to generate awareness — and donations — for their causes, and digital entertainment, such as web series, are beginning to tap into this movement, giving fans the ability to help fund their shows. But thanks to Slava Rubin, and his service, IndieGoGo, independent filmmakers have an established turnkey solution for getting their films and documentaries increased exposure, funding and promotion.

IndieGoGo is a socially-driven platform built on the concept of crowdfunding, creating a central location where independent filmmakers can showcase their work, and fans can show their support through microdonations right on the site. And thanks to a new partnership with Snag Films, filmmakers also have a vehicle to connect viewers directly with the causes they support, giving them the ability to make their films — and a difference. In addition, IndieGoGo’s integration with social networks allows the impact of those contributions to be captured and spread virally within viewers’ various communities to spark increased awareness and donations, helping the documentaries and issues gain greater market traction to build fan bases and cause champions. Not to mention the added benefit of delivering important social and environmental topics in an emotionally resonant and compelling way through entertainment experiences that forge deep, lasting connections well after the film ends.

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Tom’s of Maine: 50 States of Change

| Friday August 7th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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Rob Robinson helping clean-up Mtn. Agamenticus in York, Maine at Tom's of Maine Mission Day, July 2009.

Tom’s of Maine is one of those companies that’s a shining example of social responsibility done right. It’s never been about flavor-of-the-month cause marketing or flashy ad campaigns or even gimmicky product extensions like bubble-gum flavored toothpaste. It’s always been about quality products, customer service and a core mission to giving back. And they are extending that commitment through a community-driven cause marketing initiative that gives their customers an opportunity to directly help their favorite charity. Tom’s is putting up $100,000 to be evenly distributed to 5 charities across the 50 states, submitted and voted on by customers.

I particularly like this campaign because it gives exposure to not just one random company-selected charity, but hundreds of worthy organizations where the submitting users have a deep, personal connection to the cause. It also helps build the local community by giving customers relevant causes to support right in their own backyard. And with a universe of users logging on to vote, they’re also getting exposed to a world of charities in need, so Tom’s of Maine becomes the benefactor of raising consciousness overall. Even the charities who aren’t awarded the $20K grant will still receive valuable exposure among consumers through visibility on the website during the voting process. It all seems too good to be true. Where’s the catch? So, being the cause marketing sleuth that I am, I reached out to Tom’s of Maine to determine if this campaign is really as good as it seems, and my conversation with Rob Robinson, Director of Common Goods Partnerships proved that it is as authentic as it is aspirational. And 100% catch-free.

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Going, Going, Green: New Film Festival Spotlights the Environment

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

hollywood & green

GGFFSomewhat serendipitously, only a week after I launched my new ‘Hollywood & Green’ series focusing on socially responsible cinema and TV, film and documentaries that help connect consumers with important causes and environmental issues, the Going Green Film Festival opened its doors to eco-conscious filmmakers everywhere. The first of its kind, the Going Green Film Festival has set out to reward and recognize green filmmakers who fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Green Production - Where environmentally responsible filmmaking practices were employed to lessen the carbon footprint left on the planet (with sufficient documentation of the process)
  • Our Planet - Where the film’s topic covers third world issues, ecology, nature or the environment
  • Hybrid/Alternative Transporation - Where the film features a hybrid vehicle,
    bicycle, electric scooter or public transportation.

The Going Green Film Festival aims to spotlight those who are working to preserve our planet through entertainment and help inspire other filmmakers to adopt green practices, build greater awareness of social and environmental issues, and raise money for the Minorities in Broadcast Training Program (MIBTP),
a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed in 1992 to provide training opportunities to college graduates in
TV/radio news reporting, news management and film/TV production. I had an opportunity to chat with Festival Founder, Patrice Williams, to learn more about their efforts, and her thoughts on the importance of green filmmaking.

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A Beef Burrito and a Side of Consciousness

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hollywood & green

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There are few things more powerful than that exhilarating feeling after a great movie, or the return of your favorite TV series, or an inspiring documentary. Without realizing it, you find yourself rattling off lines, and though you’ve still yet to master the whole e=mc2 thing, you’re somehow able to quote entire scenes after just one viewing. And while the fate of teen vampires in ‘Twilight’ isn’t likely to save the planet, it demonstrates how memorable entertainment can be from an education and retention standpoint. And that is probably what Chipotle Mexican Grill was banking on when they partnered with Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media and River Road Entertainment to promote the documentary, Food, Inc.

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Twittering for Tots: Child Fund International

| Tuesday July 21st, 2009 | 3 Comments

Follow @TheChildFund to Donate Gifts to Kids Around the World
child fund internationalNonprofits have had much success harnessing the power of the social web (specifically, Twitter) in generating awareness for their causes and motivating action. From Stacey Monk’s Tweetsgiving initiative to the multi-location Twestivals, and countless campaigns in between, Twitter has become a viable cause marketing channel for building communities around important social issues and causes. To tap into this viral mecca in promoting their new name, Child Fund International created an online giving program where all users have to do is follow them on Twitter to help children in need.

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