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.

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No More Eco-Babble: How to Construct a Meaningful Social-Good Narrative

For the second year in a row, I was in Cannes last month doing a Palais session on marketing sustainability. This year, I was joined by my colleague Chip Walker, director of global planning for Young & Rubicam. Our strategic planning workshop was called “Beyond Eco-Babble: How to Change the Conversation Around Social Good.”Cannes has extremely stringent criteria for its sessions and getting on the program is akin to winning a Lion. In response to my initial proposal, the organizers told me that while they view marketing sustainability as critically important and definitely wanted to include it as a workshop, as a topic it can be too serious, a bit of a mood-kill and not very much fun.

Greenpeace Ramps Up LEGO Campaign with Emotional Video

Greenpeace continued its campaign against LEGO on Tuesday with the release of a dramatic video, called “Everything Is NOT Awesome,” aimed at further illustrating the reasons the toy company should sever its ties with Shell, which Greenpeace contends is putting the delicate Arctic marine environment at risk through its oil drilling.

How to Communicate Effectively with Young Consumers (Or, Lessons from 'Funny or Die')

This post is part of a series written by MBA and MPA candidates in Presidio Graduate School’s Managerial Marketing course, examining the role of marketing in advancing sustainability across all sectors.When a funny, awkward, irreverent spoof video can increase web traffic to the Affordable Care Act website by 40 percent in less than a day, understanding why can help your brand better communicate with young consumers.

Walmart Introducing 'Women-Owned' Labels This Fall

A new “women-owned” label on goods will appear in Walmarts nationwide this fall, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.In recent years, many brands have responded to growing customer trends to purchase products they deem ecologically and socially ethical by slapping everything from “certified organic” to “locally sourced” to "GMO-free" onto product packages. But this is the first time a major retailer is using labels to spotlight products by women-owned companies.

Greenpeace to LEGO: 'Shell Is Bad Company'

Greenpeace has launched a campaign urging LEGO to #BlockShell and end its partnership with the oil company, which the NGO contends has been using LEGO’s brand to clean up its image as an Arctic oil driller.

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Unwieldy Restoration Hardware Catalogs Stir Social Media, Consumer Backlash

A few weeks ago, Restoration Hardware mailed out its annual catalog. Only, this one weighed 17 pounds. The 13 different 'source books,' as the company calls them, had 3,300 pages and were delivered by UPS. Consumers reacted furiously to what was seen as a wasteful move by the company.People took to social media to lambast the company, vent their frustration and organize. In addition to the perceived environmental impact of the catalog, consumers were upset about the unsolicited mailing to many who had never even shopped at the store before.

Bevy of Brands Abuzz with Bee Campaigns

Bee colony collapse disorder continues to generate concern, debate and action around the world. With bees playing a critical role in our lives and economy, a number of companies are running campaigns for the cause, particularly those whose businesses depend on plenty of healthy bees. Many are contributing to and collaborating with the scientific community and nonprofits to address the issue.

New Research Shows Food Marketing Can Create False Sense of Health

Health-related buzzwords mislead consumers into thinking packaged food products labeled with these words are healthier than they actually are, according to a new research study conducted by scholars at the University of Houston (UH).Some of these words, such as “antioxidant,” “gluten-free” and “whole grain,” create a “false sense of health,” which when combined with a failure to understand the information presented in nutrition facts panels on packaged food, may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in the United States.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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