Eco-marketing a hot topic for advertisers at Cannes

CANNES, France — Going green is red hot in the
ad world. Paint companies, laundry-detergent makers, soft-drink
producers and locomotive sellers are among a multitude of marketers
trying to position themselves as environmentally friendly.

Green "has gone mainstream," says Allen Adamson, managing director at branding agency Landor Associates and author of BrandSimple. "Everyone has jumped on this bandwagon."

And that has made "eco-marketing" a hot topic of
discussion here at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival,
the industry’s biggest global trade and awards show.

It’s also on the official agenda. On Friday,
former vice president Al Gore will be here to speak on what advertisers
and ad agencies can do to "raise awareness of the climate crisis around
the world."

Gore’s seminar follows a discussion on Wednesday
hosted by global ad giant Havas that examined good and bad attempts at
green marketing.

Also here, the non-profit ACT Responsible group
of ad and media pros sponsored an exhibition of socially responsible
ads with a large section for green ads.

On a lighter note, Alice Audouin, sustainable
development director at Havas Media in France, will lead a group of ad
industry women in swimsuits on a cleanup of litter on the Cannes beach
on Saturday. She says they aim to show that social responsibility can
be fun and even "sexy."

The popularity of Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth,
along with an increased emphasis on climate issues in schools, are two
huge factors fueling consumer interest in the green movement, Adamson
says.

That has companies taking action, from buying
alternative energy credits to reducing plastic packaging to donating
loads of money to Earth-friendly charities. Levi Strauss introduced
Levi’s Eco jeans last year, made from 100% organic cotton.

They’re also spending to let people know about
their goods, services and events that relate to the environment. In the
three months ending June 14, marketers shelled out a combined $18
million on green-focused TV ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Those ads ranged from Earth Day sales promotions to commercials for
hybrid cars.

While an environmentally sound stance is good
for Earth, it doesn’t hurt a marketer’s brand reputation — and
increasingly it is a path to higher sales and profits.

About 35 million Americans regularly buy green products, according to research group Mintel.

And research shows many folks will pay more for eco-friendly goods or services, says Adamson.

Adamson and other marketing experts warn,
however, that when it comes to touting an eco-friendly message,
marketers had better be ready to back it up — or face backlash from
consumers.

"You’ve got to show that there’s substance
behind what you say," says Hamish McLennan, global CEO of ad agency
Y&R, which is hosting the Gore seminar. "Otherwise, it could
backfire."

Dozens of marketers — including oil companies
and automakers — have been criticized in the media and on blogs for
what appears to be more hype than action on the green front. There’s
even a term for playing up an eco-friendly stance when a company may
actually be doing, on balance, more harm than good to the environment:
"greenwashing."

Joanne Bradford, chief media officer at MSN,
says she is well aware that tying with a green issue comes with
scrutiny. Microsoft’s MSN is lead media sponsor of the upcoming series
of Live Earth concerts to raise awareness of global warming.

Microsoft has touted its success in reducing
fuel emissions, and Bradford says her team has worked to cut paper use.
But she is open about the limitations on a person or company going
completely green: "We’re just trying to be thoughtful about it. There
are all sorts of little things that you can do every single day."

In posting online content, MSN also has to balance its green focus.

"Whether you’re buying natural ingredients for
your skin care or deciding what type of fuel economy you want with your
car, we want to provide you with that information," she says. "But I
don’t think you’ll see everything we do be green. It’s not going to be
the all-green auto channel, because people want options."

Others greening their image:

•Nedbank. In one of the most direct
examples of green marketing, this South African bank took the Grand
Prix in the outdoor ad competition at Cannes this week for its Power to
the People billboard. The sign has 10 solar panels, each generating 135
watts of electricity, that are powering the kitchen of a nearby primary
school.

•GE. It began its Ecomagination campaign
two years ago. The made-up word represents GE’s commitment to spend
more than $1.5 billion developing eco-friendly polices and products,
from clean coal technology to energy-efficient washing machines and
light bulbs, by 2010.

The Ecomagination campaign of TV, print and Web
executions, by BBDO in New York, will get nearly 100% of GE’s corporate
ad budget this year.

"Ecomagination is a business initiative first
and foremost," says Judy Hu, general manager for corporate advertising.
"We aren’t being charitable. We’re doing something that makes good
business sense."

•Timberland. The apparel and shoe company
last fall began using shoe boxes of 100% recycled material and
introduced a so-called nutritional label, similar to food labels, that
list such things as the shoe’s environmental impact in areas such as
renewable energy.

This spring, Timberland also added Green Index
tags to five shoe lines. The tags give environmental ratings for each
based on the impact on the climate of making the product, chemicals
used to make it and its organic, renewable and recycled materials
contents.

•PepsiCo. It has made a companywide
commitment to environmental action such as using more solar energy at
its facilities, recycling water and purchasing renewable energy credits
that subsidize develop clean sources such as wind power.

Pepsi is a sponsor for the July 7 Live Earth
concerts. Concertgoers who turn in Pepsi containers at stores at the
concert venues get credit toward buying recycled products. For
instance, at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, people can turn in cans and
bottles for a messenger bag made from recycled material.

•EMP. The Lithuanian electronics recycler
won a Silver Lion for media planning with a campaign encouraging people
to turn in for recycling old electronics sitting unused in attics and
garages.

EMP worked with Universal McCann to place old TVs on buses, with a message about how much space they waste.

The campaign also included e-mailing of videos
showing funny ways people get rid of old electronics. They got
substantial pass-along distribution and showed up on video-sharing
websites.

No Responses to “Eco-marketing a hot topic for advertisers at Cannes”

  1. It is wonderful these companies are finally realizing the benefits of being green! With the help of every company we sould be able to offset allot!

  2. It is wonderful these companies are finally realizing the benefits of being green! With the help of every company we sould be able to offset allot!

Leave a Reply