LOHAS Weekly reports that Levi Strauss has published a list of all contract factories that produce their various branded products. It’s a great way of demonstrating that the company has nothing to hide in terms of workplace compliance issues as well as environmental regulations. It also puts preasure on suppliers, many of whom may operate in countries with poor reputations for high workplace standards, to comply at higher levels. The report can be found here.
Robert Iger, the new appointed CEO of Disney, might have big shoes to fill by replacing the fallen King Michael Eisner. Most important, he needs to redirect Disney’s positioning and take into account the numerous new challenges of the ever-changing consumer market: a downturn in the core film business, the complications of expanding into foreign markets, particularly China and India-, and the urgency pressing upon all traditional media companies to reinvent their businesses for a new digital era. He is under pressure to devise new ways to drive growth.
The 54-year-old executive inherits a company whose old way of doing business has been blown up by technology. “If we sit back and rely on old technology, the consumer is going to pass us by”, Mr. Iger says, noting the music industry made that mistake. He realizes that his biggest obstacles may be the business habits of Disney’s old employees and of theater owners, mass retailers, television affiliates and others. “We need to create an atmosphere that tolerates experimentation, even if it’s at the expense of near-term economics”.
Storing carbon, either in forests, or underground in spent oil wells might be a great way to reduce the greenhouse effects of our CO2 emissions. A new group called the “Carbon Capture and Storage Association” aims to put new technology to use in the UK that will help the country meet emissions goals.
Led mostly by major oil and energy companies, the principal plan is to pump CO2 into old North Sea oil fields that will keep is out of the atmosphere. It also preserved oil field jobs as extraction is replaced by sequestration.
In all honesty, this looks like more of a novelty than a practical solution for anything. This contraption probably costs the car more in wind resistance than would be gained by charging the battery with say, regenerative braking. Still, it’s attention getting and builds awareness among passengers. The same company, Kyoto based Ecolo, also has bike racks on all its taxis.
In this week’s Economist magazine, there is an article entitled “In hot water: The world’s biggest drinks firm tries to fend off its green critics” which tells the story Coca-Cola and their attempt to respond to green critics by protecting their brand image. When large brands, such as Coca-Cola, are subject to bad press, they must overcome the tarnished image by reinventing themselves or addressing the very issue that caused them the bad press. Coca-cola’s manager of environmental affairs, believes that, “water is to Coca-Cola as clean energy is to BP”, but BP took the strategy of reinventing themselves from an oil company to an energy company and Coca-cola is attempting to address their water complaint issues by releasing an environmental report which discusses and explains their new global water strategy.
Coca-cola’s company mission is “to benefit and refresh everyone it touches”. Amrit Srivastava of the India resource Centre believes that their mission is in conflict with their actions, and has launched a campaign against Coca-Cola because of their activities in India.
British Petroleum and ExxonMobile both sell the same thing – Gasoline. Both are strong and globally recognized brands with 19.3% and 6.6% of the California market share respectively (I couldn’t find national stats).
For a few years now, BP has been undertaking a massive green marketing campaign, aggressively showcasing its investment in renewable resources, and going so far as to refer to itself as “Beyond Petroleum”. It also showcases environmental issues prominently on its website. ExxonMobile, on the other hand, has made very little effort to brand itself as anything other than a petroleum company, has publicly refused to accept renewables, and maintains a much more basic website with little obvious environmental messaging.
The question: Which marketing strategy will pay off in terms of market share? Is either more honest?
In NPR’s Morning Edition today (11-Oct), a reporter desribes a dilemma facing wealthy countries that provide farm subsidies. The Swiss government, for example, has long provided farm subsidies for various reasons–sustainability, tourism, national pride and cultural preservation among them. The problem is global trade talks will require the cessation of farm subsidies.
The challenge the Swiss face is that no one wants to give up farming, but they’re also not all prepared to pay the steep prices for farm products. A farmer describes the situation as a choice between paying about 65 Francs per kilogram of Swiss-raised pork and about 10 francs across the border in Germany. The question they have to resolve is, “How much is happiness worth?”
Listen to the article here. – Ken Chung at InformedStrategy.com
The market is Western culture’s cosmology. In the space where symbols, archetypes and elemental energies once occupied the Western psyche, the brand has grown into the vacancy left by a shift of culture towards ever-increasing commoditization of consciousness. One does not have to look very far to observe parallels between brand-stories and core human tendencies to meet the need of myth.
The Nike swoosh is a great example of a brand that holds a key to one of these core mythological human needs. The swoosh is air. It is ethereal and quickly able to “Just Do It.” It moves effortlessly and with great power. The Nike corporation defines itself as being in service to human potential. According to Nike, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Basically, the story of the swoosh proclaims a universal truth: if you are breathing, you are alive, and you are wrought with physical potential through the breath, the element of air.
In more and more companies, top level CSR Executives are grappling with the challenge of financially quantifying and justifying how CSR related activities add true shareholder value.
Fortune Magazine wrote a fantastic article about the movement to define and standardize what corporate social responsibility means and how to achieve it. They looked at 2 leaders in the CSR metric industry, London think tank AccountAbility, and consultancy CSRnetwork, who both have devised a method to score companies on their CSR efforts and the challenges they face.
Read the article titled “Managing Beyond the Bottom Line” on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development website.
I havn’t yet had time to go through this report on Worldchanging, but having had a glance at it, I have to highly recommend taking a look. It’s a summar of Environmental Accounting, Natural Capital and the various ways that traditional “bottom line” methods can be used to prove the value of a healthy environment.
Could hurricane Katrina be a classic case of “Blowback” to the Bush Administration’s refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol? From a marketing standpoint it is, and we see the President’s advisors and PR people working overtime to re-brand and market him as the strong leader amid disaster. The results of this effort we will have to wait and see.
Corporate America though appears to not want to wait and see in regards to climate change. And it’s doing so for good reasons.
Creating more computers may not be a “green” undertaking, but enabling the world’s poor to have access to modern technology certainly is. MIT has been working for some time on the holy grail of leapfrog technology – the “$100 Laptop” – a laptop computer that can be charged by turning a crank and that can be bought in bulk by governments for less than $100 a piece. The laptops can then be distributed to children by the thousands. It seems that dream is now a reality, and 5 to 15 million test units may be available by the end of the year.
Once again, proof that cutting emissions can result in tremendous cost savings: IBM has cut CO2 emissions by 1 Million tons, and in the process realized a cost savings of $115 Million since 1998. That’s not trivial any way you look at it. The project was a part of the World Wildlife Fund’s “Climate Savers” program.
3P followed the adventures of the Treasure America team this summer as we visited the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in search of economic arguments against opening the refuge to oil development. The project successfully showed that tourism and other locally born industry could be a more viable long term economic strategy than oil exploration. The second part of the project was to produce a video for the rest of America demonstrating that drilling in the refuge will do next to nothing for our economy, and ironically, NOT drilling is a better economic stimulator.
I’m happy to say the video is finally done, and it’s available for you right here. It’s a limited-quality version. If you are interested in helping to distribute a DVD-quality version please email me! Read on to launch the 12 minute video. Hope you enjoy it!
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Ken Chung for 3p: In an unusual twist, some are beginning to believe that the alignment of financial and social performance are not necessarily good. Deborah Doane, a respected activist in the U.K. writing in a recent issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, explains that many companies are hiding behind a CSR facade when in fact there is no underlying improvement in social conditions.
Doane believes that the voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) equals profits approach is at best a temporary measure. When profits are at risk, companies will drop CSR efforts. Instead, she recommends that companies’ social behavior be regulated and the role of the corporation be re-considered.
There may be some merit to regulation. Research suggests, however, that corporations deliver more innovation where they are allowed to excel and gain a competitive advantage. Regulations create an atmosphere of “equality” and pushes innovation away. What we really want is for companies to create more innovative solutions to social problems.
A PDF of the full article is downloadable here. This article was contributed by Ken Chung at InformedStrategy.com.