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Marketing and Comms

How brands are evolving in the area of sustainability marketing and communications — and how their stakeholders are asserting their own needs and preferences.

From Conflicted to Regenerated in 4 Days: A Reflection on the Activists of SB '14 San Diego

If I had written this last Tuesday, it would have been titled “Environmental activists stoop to new low: Spend money to rent boat to illegally trespass to protest sustainability conference.” However, after three days with thought leaders in corporate sustainability, my sentiments have shifted.

Will GMO Labeling Muddy the Sustainable Food Waters or Make Things Clearer?

Socially responsible investment themes come to light in a range of industries we touch every day. Agriculture and food is a prime example, and the emergence of GMO labelling is a big part of the conversation. With Vermont now the third state to require food labels to reveal the presence of genetically modified ingredients, issues of food sustainability are about to become a little clearer. Stricter labeling guidelines will soon follow; down the road, it could be illegal to market products containing GMO ingredients using descriptions such as “natural,” “naturally made” or “naturally grown.”But they could still be local … and good for you.

Regenerating Trust, Connection, Engagement Key Keynote Themes on #SB14sd Day 4

Annie Longsworth of Saatchi & Saatchi S served as MC for our last day at SB’14. Reminding cause-marketers that we do things when we want to and need to and not when we’re told to, Longsworth eloquently introduced a series of plenaries with themes of authentic stories and focused purpose.

McDonald's USA Introduces 'Happy,' Who Will Hopefully Encourage Kids to Eat Healthier

McDonald’s USA announced this week it is offering new incentives for kids to eat healthier – with the addition of yogurt as a new side option for Happy Meals and the unveiling of “Happy,” the company’s new Happy Meal brand ambassador.McDonald’s says “Happy” is intended to bring “fun and excitement to kids’ meals while also serving as an ambassador for balanced and wholesome eating.” Happy will officially be introduced nationwide May 23, and will encourage kids to enjoy fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and wholesome beverages such as water or juice.

The 'CVS Effect' in Action: Lessons from Chipotle's #BurritosNotBullets CSR Win

After a bruising shareholder vote-down on executive pay last week, Chipotle Mexican Grill sure needed a win.It got one, courtesy of some loaded semi-automatic weapons and some pissed-off moms. In a May 19 statement, the company asked customers not to bring guns into Chipotle restaurants.This is another great example of what I’m calling the “CVS Effect” — the growing trend of companies doing the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.

Tom's of Maine Highlights Achievements, New Goals, Other 'Goodness' in New Report

The second edition of the Tom’s of Maine Goodness Report, released today, shines a light on the company’s approach to its ingredients, packaging, waste, water, energy, community and employees. The new report shows progress against 11 key goals and how human, healthy and environmental values guide the company’s sustainable business practices, and a goals tracker for 2015 and beyond.

Kellogg Drops 'All Natural' Labels in Kashi Products

The Kellogg Company has agreed to drop the words "all natural" and "nothing artificial" from the labeling and advertising for some Kashi products, as part of a settlement of a class-action suit. The company also will pay $5 million as part of the settlement.

Coca-Cola Gamifies Recycling in Bangladesh with 'Happiness Arcade'

“What happens when no one is concerned about recycling?” That’s what Coca-Cola asks in a YouTube video detailing its recent effort to engage youth in the Bangladeshi city of Dhaka on the importance of recycling. Coke’s latest campaign in the country involved an arcade machine, which runs on empty plastic Coke bottles instead of coins. Coke says the machine, called the “Happiness Arcade,” is meant to engage youth in the importance of recycling by making it fun. According to Coke’s blog, the machines accept empty plastic bottles through a customized slot and reward the user with a Coke-themed video game reminiscent of “Pong.”

Shareholders Again Ask Abbott Labs to Label GM Ingredients in Baby Formula

Shareholders at Abbott Laboratories’ annual meeting last week sent a message to management and the Board of Directors — for the second year in a row — that they are concerned about the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the company’s Similac infant formula. The shareholder resolution, filed by environmental health advocacy organization As You Sow, was supported by 6.7 percent of shareholders, representing over $2.2 billion in shares.

Effie Worldwide, WEF Unveil Award to Recognize Sustainability-Focused Brands

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and Effie Worldwide, which rewards effectiveness in marketing communications, have announced a new award aimed at incentivizing marketers to put more emphasis on sustainability in their work, and “recognize and celebrate” the companies who are already committed to driving and promoting positive environmental impact.The Positive Change Effie Award will recognize and celebrate the most effective marketing programs that have measurably shifted consumer behavior toward more sustainable choices, and/or grown demand for more sustainable products and services by incorporating sustainability as a part of their marketing communications.

Showtime's 'Years of Living Dangerously' Combines Climate Change Science with Drama

The gripping new Showtime docu-series Years of Living Dangerously tackles climate change with a combination of Hollywood star power, heavyweight scientists and frontline reporting. Sending big name such as Harrison Ford, Thomas Friedman, Lesley Stahl and Jessica Alba into the field as correspondents to document the human impact of climate change, the series conveys the issue’s urgency with drama and facts. The nine episodes cover topics such as Hurricane Sandy, rising sea levels, upheaval from the droughts in Syria and Texas, deforestation and palm oil in Indonesia, religious beliefs, and renewable energy.

How Brands Can Connect with Consumers — Through 'Storydoing'

We all have a personal metastory, a story that we build through every action we take, every choice that we act on, and every purchase we make. It is the story that emerges in the minds of others as they see us and our choices. This is true for people and for brands.In True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business, author and former ad man Ty Montague argues that consumers use the story of brands to tell part of their own metastories. His advice to brands: “People don’t buy products; they take actions that help advance their own personal metastory, and sometimes buying and using your product is one of those actions.”

The FTC's New Green Guides in Practice: A Real-Life, Detailed Case Study

gDiapers is a Portland, Oregon-based diaper company offering mums and dads a diaper insert that is flushable, home-compostable and plastic-free. My wife and I moved from Sydney, Australia to Portland, Oregon in 2004 to launch the company. As new parents ourselves at that time, we felt strongly that there had to be a better way than the current choice of diapers. gDiapers prides itself on open communications with all our stakeholders and especially our customers and loyal gMums and gDads. We have always been transparent about how we run the company, how we treat our employees, the product and how we support our product claims.

Creativity Is One of the UK's Greatest Assets — Let's Turn Its Attention Towards Climate Change

Late last month, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its second report, warning the impacts of global warming are likely to be ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible.’ It’s considered the most comprehensive assessment to date, providing ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the scale of these effects.Yet, it’s now eight years since Al Gore coined the phrase ‘an inconvenient truth’ and we still seem much closer to where we started than the place we wish to get to. Worryingly, one of the concerns about the UN report was that the language was so ‘apocalyptic,’ it portrayed climate change as a battle already lost.

Heineken Doubles Renewable Energy Use, on Track to Meet 2020 Goals

Heineken has increased the percentage of renewable electricity it uses in its global operations from 9.3 percent in 2012 to 18 percent, to a total of 358,100,000 kWh, according to the beer maker’s recent sustainability report.The increase in renewable energy use, as well as improved energy-efficiency projects, helped Heineken to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 119 kton in 2013, which the company says is the equivalent of nearly 2,400 trips around the globe with a fully loaded 30-ton Heineken beer truck. For example, some 99 percent of the 116,000 refrigerators the company purchased in 2013 were ‘green,’ resulting in an average energy savings of 40 percent over 2010 numbers.

Study Reveals Few Fashion Brands Are Walking Their Sustainability Talk

A recent study by brand comparison website Rank a Brand shows discrepancies in sustainability talk and action in the fashion industry. The report finds that while fashion brands are tackling sustainability challenges through communication (63 percent speak of sustainability on their websites, 10 percent more than in 2011; 20 percent publish a sustainability report), many are not backing it with details and data.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Across Western US Going Dark for Earth Hour 2014

For the seventh consecutive year, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts throughout the Western U.S. and Hawaii will participate in Earth Hour, a global event organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to raise awareness about climate change. On Saturday, March 29, at 8:30 p.m. (local time) these Fairmont hotels and resorts will participate by turning off their lights for one hour.“Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for Fairmont colleagues and guests to participate in the world’s largest global climate change initiative,” shares Thomas Klein, Regional Vice President and General Manager for Fairmont San Francisco. “It furthers our ongoing support of environmental awareness and demonstrates the hotels’ ongoing energy conservation stewardship.”

TripAdvisor Extends GreenLeaders Certification to European, Canadian Hotels

TripAdvisor, the go-to global site for travel advice, is extending its GreenLeaders program to 19 new markets including Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Explaining the benefits, Jenny Rushmore, Director of Responsible Travel at TripAdvisor, said, "With so many travelers placing an importance on the eco-friendly practices of the places they visit, hotel and B&B owners stand to gain a real competitive edge by promoting their environmentally friendly practices."

#ToastToWater: Raising a Glass to Raise Awareness of Global Water Challenges

On March 22, the world will acknowledge World Water Day to celebrate the importance of fresh water and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Established in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, World Water Day is a reminder of the critical value of water to life, and a collective call-to-action to address the increased pressure that is threatening what is considered our most precious resource.

The Times They Aren't a-Changing

We are at a point in our species’ history when the need for change has never been stronger. Therefore it is with some frustration that the change we require remains ever out of reach, trampled by business as usual.At every sustainability or CSR conference a plethora of gurus will tell you that sustainability and CSR types use the wrong language, are too techy, are too interested in the difference between GRI G4 and G3.1 or are too immersed in the internecine antics of the IIRC and SASB.


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