Full disclosure: I am a blogger, blogging about new rules requiring full disclosure from bloggers.
The FTC published final guidelines Monday that dictate, among other things, that “bloggers or other word-of-mouth marketers” must state when payments, free products or “other material connections” have been exchanged between them and the companies whose products they review or otherwise promote on their sites.
The FTC announcement states that “while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement.”
While dairy farmers faced the worst crisis since the Great Depression, Dean Foods Co. reported a 31 percent profit increase for the quarter that ended June 30, and earned $64.1 million on sales of $2.7 billion that quarter. Dean Foods is the largest milk processor and distributor in the U.S., which a 2001 merger with Suiza Foods helped it become. Dairy Farmers of America, a dairy cooperative, controls about 30 percent of milk supply and sells milk to Dean Foods.
Farmers receive about $1 from every gallon of milk sold, and the rest covers processing and handling costs and profits to the processors and store owners profits. “No matter what you do, even if you give 110% every day on your farm from sun up to sun down, at the end of that day you will not have earned enough to pay your bills. It doesn’t get any more demoralizing than that,” said Joel Greeno, a Wisconsin farmer.
In honor of World Habitat Day, designated as October 5, 2009, we wanted to help remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. World Habitat Day this year is celebrated under the theme Planning Our Urban Future to raise awareness of the need to improve urban settlements to deal with new major challenges of the 21st century. One of the most powerful forces is climate change. Warming events are triggering harsh natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, which rendered large sections of New Orleans unrecognizable and claimed almost 2,000 lives. With nearly 200 million people worldwide living in high-risk coastal flooding zones and over 36 million people facing the threat of flooding in the U.S. alone, the future of coastal habitats needs to be revisited.
Is nuclear energy the solution to our environmental woes – and can it save the climate bill? Apparently, the answer depends on who you ask. Some promote the benefits of nuclear power (for example, its lack of carbon emissions), while others argue its drawbacks (for example, the issue of storage, and whether nuclear is the most efficient use of clean energy funds). Meanwhile, some believe nuclear power could salvage the energy bill; the Senate is already considering including nuclear in new climate legislation. A peek into the blogosphere reveals the multifaceted nature of the nuclear power issue.
A treehugger.com article discusses the (perceived) benefits and downsides of investing in nuclear power versus investing in energy efficiency, in the opinions of RMI chairman Amory Lovins, University of Chicago’s Robert Rosner, and PG&E’s Peter Darbee. The benefits? Nuclear is a relatively cheap electricity source, and, Rosner emphasizes, it already accounts for 50 percent the U.S.’s energy sourcing (versus less than 2 percent for wind and solar combined). The drawbacks? There are more efficient ways to conserve power (for example, wind energy or co-generation), Lovins says, and buying new nuclear power results in more carbon release than implementing efficiency measures. Moreover, nuclear power will likely develop too slowly to have a timely impact.
When it comes to healthcare, the adage “opinions are like behinds: everyone has one” is an understatement. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is no exception. His two cents on the matter have garnered a lot of attention recently: first, through his op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and, second, through a subsequent damage-control-type interview (also with the WSJ). What can we glean from the situation as it pertains to sustainable business?
Mackey’s op-ed, entitled “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare”, delineates smaller-government, decreased-national-deficit solutions to the nation’s healthcare woes. It lists eight reforms that would, it says, lower everyone’s healthcare costs. These solutions include equalizing tax laws for employer-provided and individually-owned insurance, allowing intra-state competition among insurance companies, mandating cost transparency to consumers, reforming Medicare, and promoting charitable donations for lower-income individuals.
Michigan, one of the nation’s manufacturing and auto industry hubs, was among the states hardest hit by carmakers’ decline. Its governor, Jennifer M. Granholm, now faces the daunting task of rebuilding the state’s job market. The Washington Post reports on Granholm’s approach to the task, which includes turning to green industries to provide jobs. Apparently, the battle has been an uphill one.
Since Granholm took office in 2003, she has taken a number of measures to remake Michigan – diversifying the state’s economy, creating jobs, and building the green job market among them. She has offered tax credits, loans, and other incentives to auto, wind, solar, and other industries, in order to convince them to bring jobs to Michigan. She is also building electric vehicle and car battery programs that could generate as many as 40,000 more jobs by 2020. So far, Granholm has created 163,000 positions, approximately 10,800 of which came from overseas companies.
“Lovemarks are brands that inspire loyalty beyond reason. People love them because of what they are, not because of what they do. Their appeal is emotional. Companies may own brands. But Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.” And Saatchi is in the business of showing companies how to change their products from simple brands into these glorious, sought after, Lovemarks.
As the graph at left (which Roberts admitted to coming up with at two in the morning when he was well into his second bottle of Bordeaux) shows, Lovemarks score high on both love and respect, while brands simply score well on the “respect” factor: you trust them, but you don’t form an emotional attachment to them.
Roberts showed some compelling examples of this lovemark concept in action:
The 2009 World Business Forum kicked off yesterday with a dramatic flair at Radio City Music Hall. 3p was invited to cover the forum in a special “blogger’s balcony” of sorts. The sight below was a non stop parade of top notch speakers on a variety of subjects, but mostly a montage of personal experience and advice – well received by the audience and the press in attendance.
Jen Boynton posted earlier on the remarks of Bill George, former chief executive of Medtronic. George spoke about using the financial crisis as an opportunity, stating “never waste a good crisis”. He was referring to business trouble in general and mentioned many examples of companies who’ve dealt with crises openly and swiftly as a contrast to companies that ignored them or tried to cover them up. That quote got me thinking about environmental and social challenges we face and the the adage that climate change actually represents a huge business opportunity for those willing to take it on.
Most interesting and inspiring - George insisted that people follow their values and stick to them. Quitting a job that had made him miserable was one of the best decisions he ever made and should serve as an example.
Incidentally, I don’t think Bill George was the first to use that quote, it’s been used by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as well, specifically in reference to climate. But I digress…
When 3p covered BBMG earlier this year, the interactive marketing agency had just released their 2009 Conscious Consumer Report, an exploration of consumer attitudes, behaviors, and priorities at a time of perceived great social reset. This morning, in what seems to be a natural extension, BBMG released a white paper on the evolution of philanthropy, building off of much of the logic of their Conscious Consumer Report.
In it, the paper’s author writes, “The new economy has created a reset moment that’s changing how we live and work. And it has profound consequences for philanthropy.”
Trust in our institutions has changed. Entrepreneurship is rising, and from that, a new class of social entrepreneurs, those who break classical boundaries and blur the lines between the traditional roles of for- and non-profits, combining what BBMG calls, “social purpose with financial promise.”
The MIT Sloan Management Review has released a comprehensive survey of sustainability practices and trends in business, including interviews, case studies, and insights into how businesses world-wide view the growing field. Michael Hopkins, editor in chief of the Review, will be a speaker at this year’s Opportunity Green conference in Los Angeles, a partner of Triple Pundit. Hopkins spoke with us about the survey, the differences between “novices” and “thought leaders,” and why sustainability is really about collaboration and transparency.
One of the most baffling results from your survey is that while 92% of respondents said their company was “addressing sustainability in some way,” 70% said they still had not developed a clear business case for it.
That is the contradiction that gets to the heart of the issue, and as we continue with the second round of the survey that is probably where we’re going to do the most digging. It’s one thing for an executive to understand that sustainability is going to have a major impact. It doesn’t mean they understand how to make a case for investing in products that will capitalize on it.
A new report by a health advocacy group calculates a tax on soda and other sugary drinks could raise $10 billion a year, tapping into current fiscal anxiety in state and local governments.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest argues a tax of 7 cents per 12 ounces of soda (a typical can) would fill government coffers in the long-term as well, by lowering health care costs. Several studies have shown a correlation between drinking soda and obesity, a costly health epidemic.
In September, the influential New England Journal of Medicine published a report suggesting a national 1 cent per ounce tax, or 12 cents per can.
When GM launched Saturn in 1985 as its first new brand in 70 years, it seemed to have much promise. Marketed as a “different kind of car company,” Saturn would produce small cars that could compete with imports as a stand-alone company with its own network. Salespeople were paid a salary instead of a commission, so customers were not hounded as they looked at cars. Saturn dealerships were also haggle-free as customers paid the sticker price. Anytime a customer brought their car in for service, they received a free wash.
GM Chairman Roger B. Smith said Saturn would “affirm that American ingenuity, American technology, and American productivity can once again be the model and the inspiration for the rest of the world.” Months after Smith uttered those stirring words, a Memorandum of Understanding between GM and the UAW stated, “We believe that all people want to be involved in decisions that affect them, care about their jobs . . . and want to share in the success of their efforts.”
A new analysis by university economists suggests that we need to start fighting climate change now, while we can still afford it. But if we take the cautious approach advocated by some well-known academics, mitigating climate change will put us in the poor house.
The Economics of 350, a detailed study put forth by Economics for Equity and the Environment (E3), weighed the cost of keeping global CO2 concentrations at 350 parts per million — an ambitious target that’s already in the rearview mirror. And that cost would cut between one and three percent off GDP. That might seem steep, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming down the turnpike if we fail to act.
President Obama’s aide and top climate and energy official, Carol Browner, confirmed Friday what many already feared: there is virtually no chance Congress will have a climate bill ready in time for the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December. Browner’s statement was the administration’s first definitive statement regarding passage of a climate and energy bill (or lack thereof). Delaying the bill will likely have a number of negative implications for the Copenhagen conference.
According to a report by the New York Times, in Browner’s words, the Obama administration would “like to be through the process,” but it’s “not going to happen.” However, the Senate may be able to complete its hearings on the bill before the Conference’s opening talks on December 7th. The administration also announced plans last week for new rules regulating greenhouse gases from large factories. Both gestures are intended to signal the US’s commitment to cutting CO2 emissions – an indication that could be crucial to the Conference’s success.
Several factors have contributed to the climate bill delay, including the healthcare debate, the process by which legislation is introduced and amended prior to passage, and what some would call procrastination. (The climate bill was introduced in the Senate only Wednesday – three months after the House passed its version of the bill.)
Is it possible to establish the overall mood of a nation? Apparently it is–if you’re Facebook (FB). The popular social networking site recently developed a new app by which it aims to determine its users’ “gross national happiness.” By searching public and semi-public FB forums for words and phrases deemed “happy,” “sad,” or “indifferent” by FB engineers, the app charts the overriding sentiments of its 300-million-a-day users. Could FB’s findings be relevant to a study on green business growth?
The app’s results, reported in a fastcompany.com blog entry, are fascinating. Apparently, Americans’ happiness levels are somewhat predictable: they sink on Mondays, rise slowly through the workweek, peak on weekend days (and holidays – especially Thanksgiving), and drop again on Monday. This year, there was a sudden drop in late June, presumably coincident with the death of Michael Jackson.
Online: Aug 5 Kimberly-Clark & Greenpeace The chat will cover topics such as how K-C and Greenpeace resolved their differences five years ago, what they've achieved since, how their relationship thrives, and where the two are moving next. Register here.
San Francisco: Sep 2 – Sep 5 SOCAP 2014 Dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good. Our unique approach emphasizes cross-sector convening and gathers voices across a broad spectrum to catalyze unexpected connections. Register here.
: Sep 11 – Sep 12 NewCo San Francisco San Francisco’s most innovative companies will open their doors to executives, entrepreneurs, investors, and future influencers. Discount to VIP reception with code "TriplePunditSF2014"Register here.
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London: Nov 3 – Nov 5 Sustainable Brands London 2014 Connect with Sustainability Executives, Brand Strategists, and Design & Innovation Leaders as the Sustainable Brands London Conference convenes to drive the innovation that leads to enhanced business. Discount with code: NW3pSB14LRegister here.
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