Recently I saw a Bank of America commercial that didn’t look like a commercial at all. The commercial looked like an advertisement promoting a new town image resulting from an urban renewal program. The commercial showed a city center with many historical buildings in various stages of renovation. The narrator started with a litany of facts regarding historical buildings and districts in the United States, and then followed by the numbers of buildings, historical sites this organization has been directly involved in preserving and renovating. In the closing moments the final statement was one related to the cost of renovation projects and at that moment the B of A logo comes on the screen. When the logo was at the center of the screen then the narrator mentions Bank of America as long time contributor to this organization contributing to the preservation of American heritage.Click to continue reading »
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
There’s a pretty good article in last week’s Business Week (article here) that highlights the ways that companies are reducing CO2 and other emissions in anticipation of the challenges of climate change. The article’s principal thesis is that companies ought to start making big changes now because regulation, especially in a post-Bush administration, is inevitable and likely to be severe. In reality, there are innumerable other reasons why companies ought to take a pro-active approach to reducing their emissions, my favorite being the adage that “pollution is a design flaw” that literately represents lost efficiency and lost product.
But – I think for the mainstream audience, scaring them a little bit with the threat of regulation seems to be an effective way to start the process of evolution to truly clean industry. Some people will go down kicking and screaming, but most of them will notice what the more thoughtful competition is doing, and eventually start “getting it”.
Perth Australia based Entreplist, a weblog on youth entrepreneurship has launched. It’s a great resource to bookmark if you are interested in entrepreneurship, and is especially useful for students and teachers. It’s perifierally related to sustainability in the sense that it’s inspiring young people to stive to make their dreams a reality. Check it out!
Thinking about what to get your friends this holiday season? How about something that’s materially intangible, holds real value, and promotes both ecology and economy? Drive Neutral certifications are avilable in three different classes to offest the carbon emissions of any vehicle. Once “neutralized”, drivers get the satisfaction of knowing that for the next year, their car’s carbon emissions will be offest by real reductions in the emissions of companies who trade carbon credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange.
The CCX is a voluntary greenhouse gas emissions market in North America. CCX requires members to lower their CO2 emissions by 1% per year in 2003 through 2006 for an overall 4% reduction below a baseline of their average emissions in years 1998-2001. The CCX incorporates free-market mechanisms to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas emissions, and is the same kind of cap-and-trade program operating in countries that are participating in the Kyoto accord treaty. When you buy a DriveNeutral certificate, DriveNeutral will retire carbon credits on the exchange, eliminating the associated future emissions permanently. Plus you get a nifty decal for your car!
DriveNeutral is a program run by students at the Presidio School of Management.
TerraCycle, a company that manufactures organic plant fertilizer, was started a few years ago by a then 19- year old Princeton University drop-out. Their product is simple: liquid organic fertilizer made from worm poop. Red worms digest organic waste and the resulting excrement is made into a liquid plant food. Worm poop fertilizer is not a new idea, but research from Rutgers University has helped substantiate the company’s claim that TerraCycle brand fertilizer outperforms standard chemical based home fertilizers. The company has grabbed shelf space across Canada and the US in WalMart, Home Depot, Whole Foods and Wild Oats and is expected to top $1.5 million in sales next year.Click to continue reading »
A recent ClimateBiz article talks about the pressure that major institutional investors such as the CalPers pension fund are putting on insurance companies to disclose their financial risk to climate change. With an ever increasing climactic risk, insurance companies stand on shaky ground, and investors need to know exactly how shaky it is – especially long term investors with a vested interest that goes beyond the next quarter. The added benefits to the rest of us are that pressure on insurance companies translates to pressure on the clients of those companies to take a proactive stance on climactic issues.
By Jason Smith
The book, Marketing Management 12e, by Kotler and Keller, introduces one of the shortest definitions of marketing there is; “meeting needs profitably.” After reading that definition I was shopping at Long’s drugstore in Santa Cruz when I noticed something that struck me as odd consumer-based marketing. The cigarettes (product) were displayed along the wall so that you would see them as you were checking out (place and promotion). Next to the cigarettes were nicotine gums, patches, and assorted other tools for quitting smoking. The cigarette display cases were exciting and bold colors of red, white, and black. They evoked a sense of adventure and at the same time relaxation; the good things in life. While the colors of the cases displaying tools for quitting were faded, out of focus, sterile blues and whites. The case made me feel like I might have a cold just looking at it. It was clear that these cigarette substitutes were medicines. It looked like it was attempting to appeal to folks who were ill. Clearly, the display cases were mismatched. Quitting cigarettes renews your life and gives you back the good things in life that you were missing.
If the manufacturers of the gums and patches were out to “meet needs profitably” surely they would market there products as life enhancing, sporty, yet mature, goods. Instead, they make one feel sick and desperate just to look at them. What gives?Click to continue reading »
During the 1980s, the “two fisted slobber” was an animated character who would appear periodically during Milwaukee Brewers baseball games on the video scoreboard. His purpose was to address a rash of bad stadium etiquette. He was fat, drooled, and spilled beer and ketchup on the people sitting near him while simultaneously belching and yelling at the top of his extremely large lungs. This behavioral social marketing campaign on behalf of the Brewers organization was designed to make a mockery of bad behavior in an amusing way and to inspire fans to say to each other – hey, I think you’ve had enough – Don’t be a “two fisted slobber”!.
The problem with the “two fisted slobber” is that fans, over time, actually grew quite fond of him, seeing him as a model for amusing antics rather than the dismal fool he was, even rising out of their seats to toast him whenever he appeared. He was eventually pulled from the game. He lives on in kitschy t-shirt shops.
I would not go so far as to say the “two fisted slobber” completely backfired, but I don’t think he was especially effective. So the question is – is there something inherently faulty about negative social marketing? Is social marketing more effective with positive reinforcement dominates?
Green LA Girl and City Hippy have been enjoying some great success in getting Starbucks’ attention with regards to the “fair trade” coffee issue. It is Starbucks’ policy to offer fair trade coffee to anyone who asks for it, but by and large, havn’t been able to deliver much when Starbucks around the world were asked for it.
The challenge works like this:
1) Pop into a Starbucks and ask, specifically, for a “Fair Trade” cup of coffee.
2) Observe what happens and send a report to Green LA Girl orCity Hippy.
Now, the challenge has been extended to include a letter-writing campaign – click here to hop on board! This is consumer action at its best.
The current demand for disaster relief supplies and workforce greatly exceeds the supply at the moment. The recent earthquake in Pakistan has killed 87,000 people and left another 2.8 million people homeless. There is currently an estimated need for $550 million in disaster relief funding and $5.2 billion in reconstruction costs. The disaster relief agencies have been also experiencing lack of manpower to enable successful relief work. It is thought that the supply of people willing and able to perform such duties, even for paid positions may be tapped due to other recent large-scale natural disasters. This is hindering relief agencies from carrying out their core competencies.
The earthquake is currently being seen as yet another disaster, but in reality, billions of dollars are needed to ensure the health and well being of millions. Just supply the public with the facts may not be enough to get the world to take action in this case or in the future. Global climate and environmental degradation may be causing there to be a dramatic increase in the severity and prevalence of natural disasters. The global response to this problem may have a tremendous impact on poverty that otherwise ensue. This situation provides a marketing opportunity to express the importance and urgency of support to these aid organizations in such a manner that people are called to action.
If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are considering entering an MBA program, please join Presidio faculty, staff, graduates, and students for an MBA Open House on Wednesday, December 7, from 6-8pm.
There will be a half-hour faculty panel presentation moderated by Paul Sheldon, featuring Dr. Alexander Laszlo, Presidio Provost Dr. Ron Nahser, Natural Capitalism co-author Hunter Lovins, and other distinguished Presidio faculty. It’s a great way to spend a Wednesday evening. See you there!
James Cascio at Worldchanging points us to an article in the CBC about the valuation of Canada’s boreal forest – the vast forest that covers almost 60% of the country. The bottom line – all the timber in Canada, plus hydropower, plus mining under the forest is worth substantially less than the value of the services the forest provides if left intact – C$37.8 billion vs C$93.2 billion.
This kind of economic reasoning is still difficult for some people to get their heads around, but because it uses hard, economic language and is based in real scientific study, it’s a fantastic way to begin explaining it to people who otherwise view environmental preservation as not related to the economy. The best quote from the article comes from professor David Shindler of the University of Alberta:
The concept is rather like being given a Mercedes Benz, told to go drive it, and we do – but we never service it or maintain it or anything,” he said. “That’s sort of what we’re doing with the boreal forest.
Further cementing themeselves as “Beyond Petroleum”, BP announced an $8 Billion investment package in renewable energy (from WBCSD). The investment doubles the company’s efforts in the areas of Wind, Solar, Hydrogen and other non-fossil fuel based energy sources.
It’s important to rememeber though, that BP will very much remain primarily an oil and gas company for a long time. The “beyond petroleum” campaign is mostly a highly funded marketing campaign, and a philosophy for the distant future. Still, the steps BP have taken go way beyond those of most other extractive industries and are most definitely worth applauding with both praise and patronage.
We had an interesting submission to the carnival of the green last week from a blog called “The Radical Libertarian” entitled greenies and their beliefs. It’s a humorous punch at some of the more radically left-of-center folks who rally under the banner of “greenness”. Although amusing, these complaints expose a woefully outdated way of looking at “environmentalism” that is held by those who choose to see extremists as representative of the entire movement, and possibly mask their own concern for wellbeing with an aloof front. That said, the post is dead-on in exposing some real crack-pots who rear their heads (such as ELF and ALF) from time to time, and do indeed paint a terrible picture of “environmentalism” to the mainstream.
As a result, there are a lot of people who have been rubbed the wrong way by the idea of “environmentalism”. To them it means an intrusive form of extremism – at best an annoying inconvenience that hinders their ability to do business and live their lives, and at worst, an evil force, literally “anti-human” as the self-proclaimed followers of Ayn Rand say.
Ironically, disasters such as the massive benezene spill on the Songhua river in China may be the sort of things that China needs to get into shape in terms of environmental policy and protection. The disaster, in classic fashion, was initially covered up, then met with panic, then finally attended to, albeit slowly and late (Time Magazine). International protest, as well as the muffled, but louder than usually permitted, complaints from the thirsty residnets of Harbin, appears to have pushed the Chinese government toward an ever so slightly more public acknowledgement that their country is teetering on the brink of epic scale ecological calamity.
Amazingly, citizen outcry in the streets and in the press has been surprisingly critical of the government response (Business week) . The question is, how many more disasters of this type will it take to see real change?