Green: The New Black?

Marketing green logo2 Brad Stewart will begin doing a monthly column on Marketing:Green.  He starts it out by inviting a discussion from his fellow marketers, professionals who he says are in a unique position to solidify "green" in Americans' consciousness.


Posted Sept. 30, 2009
By Brad Stewart, Marketing:Green

Critics argue that "green" is a passing fad.
Unfortunately for professionals in green marketing and media, history
supports this view.

Some of us will remember the wave of environmental optimism that
accompanied the early 1990s. Protests against the war in Iraq, coupled
with communitarian optimism, and one of the largest gatherings in green
history: Earth Day 1990. I was in New York that day celebrating with
over a million optimistic people in Central Park.

But, when the stilt-walking clowns, crowds, and trombone players
dissipated, I also remember seeing more trash than I'd ever seen
littering the curbs of Fifth Avenue. It was a stark reminder that
though we were marching towards a compelling goal, the genuine spirit
of sustainability and respecting our environment still had not melted
fully into our collective consciousnesses.

Fast forward almost 20 years: another war in Iraq over, the greatest
recession of all time looming, an "Inconvenient Truth" still
resonating, and it seems we are in the midst of another resurgence of
environmental responsibility. My station wagon is brimming with cloth
bags again, green has a home within MediaPost, and just about
everywhere you turn there is a marketing initiative for some charity or
another.

But will it last? Most who read this blog, including myself, hope that
the critics are wrong, and this new era of green will have stamina that
the earlier green movements lacked. Are there key differences in this
particular green resurgence, or will we be throwing our colloquial
trash on the curb again, once the recession is over and the consumption
party begins yet anew?

I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't think there was hope. However,
mass change needs to occur from both ends of the power pyramid, in
order to be sustainable: Grassroots and industry-led movements need to
symbiotically compliment one another. As it turns out, marketers and
advertisers have a unique position within this interplay. We hold a
privileged position in the attention and persuasion industries to
permanently stratify "green" into our society's collective conscious,
on the consumer side AND on the advertiser/corporate side.

As professionals who are still swimming in the turbulent waters of a
great recession, we also have a sense of what matters most in order to
incentivize change within corporations, the other sort of green, good
ol' ROI, or bottom line. Just like governments often see green as a
vote getter, but not necessarily as a candidate for global policy
change, advertisers must also see the greenback benefit to green
campaigns. This is where we must enter stage left (pun intended) aggressively, creatively and strategically.

I've been given the honor of a monthly column in Marketing:Green,
on the 4th Wednesday of the month, for the remainder of 2009. In that
time, I will use this forum as a collaborative tool to discuss ideas
aimed at leveraging the unique qualities of various powerful
traditional media (October: outdoor; November: print; December: TV).
The idea is for creative, strategic, operational, and any other media
pro to brainstorm wildly and collaborate, with the goal of indelibly
cementing "green" into media strategies of all types. I already have a
notepad brimming with ideas ranging from the
"so-crazy-it-just-might-work" to the "as long as no one gets hurt."

I invite everyone to please share in the discussion forum below, or
email me directly. I will focus in the next months on the most
outlandish, creative, or perhaps even brilliant ideas in terms of
incorporating green into traditional media. I'm hoping this exercise
will create some connections with like-minded individuals, initiate
some deal flow, and act as the genesis to numerous award-winning
campaigns. Hopefully, then, we can prevent green from being remembered
once again as merely "the new black."

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