Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Yeo Valley's farming boyband (can't wait)

In a follow up to their brilliant rapping farmers last year, Yeo Valley are releasing a pop song/new boy band of farmers during the ad breaks of X Factor this year starting this Saturday (8th Oct). Here's the lyrics so you can sing along.

The Churned ‘Forever’ Song Lyrics

I could have gone astray

Not listened to my heart

But every time I’m tempted

I go back to the start

There’s no harm in our pure and natural farming

We are as one with the countryside


Yeo Valley


We won’t change, no never

We’ll farm this way forever and ever

Yeo Valley

Family farming

Has been the driving factor

Ploughing to the future

Aboard a shiny tractor

So listen up people, take after me

Be a little funky, choose the West Country

Yeo Valley


We won’t change, no never

We’ll farm this way forever and ever

Yeo Valley

We’re not a passing fad

We don’t change by the seasons

We always respect nature

Just ask our happy friesians

In your eyes, I see our fate

We’ll live here forever, just off the A368

Yeo Valley


We won’t change, no never

We’ll farm this way forever and ever

Yeo Valley


We won’t change, no never

We’ll farm this way forever and ever

It’s only natural

Never gonna change

Stay this way forever

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

An invitation from Al Gore

Dear John (and his blog readers)

Tomorrow, people from around the world will join hands to create 24 Hours of Reality. I hope you'll join us. Together, we're going to focus the world's attention on the scope, scale and impact of the climate crisis.

24 Hours of Reality begins at 7 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, September 14. Over the course of the day, there will be 24 presentations across 24 time zones in 13 languages. I'll be presenting in the final hour at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

Use our simple tool to set a reminder so you don't miss it.

Together, we're going to take a stand against the "new normal." We're going to remove any doubt stirred up by deniers.

Together, we're going to catalyze urgency around an issue that impacts every one of us.

Find a presentation in your language or your part of the world and use our tool to schedule a reminder email. You'll receive 15 minutes before the event.

Make sure you're a part of this event. Make time. Tell your friends and followers you're participating and encourage them to join you. At the bottom of this email, you'll find some easy links to help you spread the word.

I'm truly excited for tomorrow and I hope you are, too.


Al Gore
Founder and Chairman
The Climate Reality Project

Monday, 5 September 2011

A Very Nice Ad

(Via Jane Allen at

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Ethics 2.0 - This Time It's Personal

from their press release:
Ethical Consumer magazine's new website lets shoppers produce their own personalised ethical shopping list:
The interactive buyers' guides allow web-users to change company ethiscores on the Ethical Consumer brand tables to reflect their own personal ethics. On-screen sliders allow shoppers to turn up the volume on a range of key ethical issues that they feel passionate about. The result is that for the first time shoppers can easily identify and support those companies whose ethics they agree with and avoid the companies whose ethics they don't.
[For a live example visit: ]

greenormal's view:
absolutely brilliant, well done - this has been in development since the BBC green partnership, it's a long anticipated step forward in ecological intelligence: from dumb average ethics to fitting my vallues ethics

Digital Demo(cracy)

The recent UK riots highlighted the role of social media and the networks. Key features being the use of BBM (Blackberry messaging) to coordinate among rioters. And the use of Twitter to coordinate @riotcleanup. We also saw examples of citizen journalism: eg Leon Piers, 21 year old in Bristol – who covered riots by cycle & twitter "A guy on a bike & a group of friends, dotted around Bristol, bringing you only CONFIRMED riot news & Keeping you updated so you can stay safe!" And the role in amplifying the story and tracking both it and the public reaction realtime: #londonriots was the trending topic on Twitter one day and #riotcleanup the next.

David Cameron was said to be considering shutting social networks down to prevent their use by rioters. He should be aware that precisely this action by the Egyptian government was what turned a 20,000 activist protest into a 2 million public one (what would you do if the government pulled the plug on internet and phone?)

Also from Arab Spring we learned (as if it needed to be learned) that brands should not try to take the credit for ‘enabling’ such processes: as one Egyptian blogger put it "Never mind the years of activism, the protests, the decades of cumulated grievances, the terrible economic situation, the trampled political freedoms, the police brutality, the torture, etc. Nah - we just watched a Vodafone ad, and thought: 'Hey! We're powerful! Let's topple the president!'" (Mohamed El-Dahshan).

More broadly there has been a stream of successful challenges to corporate and government power, particularly around the theme of information, secrecy and privacy. Wikileaks successfully opened government in the way that was often promised but never delivered. The Newscorp phone hacking scandal lifted the lid on journalistic ethics and celebrity. And more importantly on corporate governance as the debate about who knew (and hence who should go to prison) continues. The Murdoch campaign was partly coordinated by Avaaz, which is a growing force in galvanizing and coordinating public pressure.

What many are starting to recognize though is that the role of social media has been limited mostly so far to digital demos; attacks on the status quo from the fringes, or solutions for when society is under extreme stress – like Ushahidi for mapping election violence or in disaster relief - rather than citizens getting involved in the everyday running of society. I heard recently that there is a UN project underway working with some leading global innovators in technology to look at developing positive applications for everyday democracy.

True digital democracy is still cut short by the “leave it to us” model. 1 in 7 American voters took active part in the Obama campaign, but once he got in it seemed to be back to business as usual (meetings with lobbyists behind closed doors) and an administration quickly bogged down in climate backtracking and healthcare reform. In the UK you can now at least table a proposal to be debated in the House of Commons if 100,000 sign your petition. Stimulated by the UK riots, 2 million did visit this site in the first two weeks and the first petition has achieved its goal, with 208,000 signing a proposal that “Convicted London Rioters should lose (social security) benefits”. Meanwhile in America a new scheme called Americans Elect looks set to offer voters the ability to nominate their own presidential candidate; it is accredited so far in 4 states, has passed the crucial 1.6 million signature test in California and the organisers say they expect to be accredited in all states by 2012.

One criticism of direct digital democracy is that few people can actually be bothered to get involved. So that you will get rule passed to those with time on their hands (as is often seen in online forums) regardless of their actual merits. But the evidence is that with the right scheme you can actually get mass participation. There were 76 million votes cast in the $20m community cause giveaway scheme Pepsi Refresh.

Another is that the ill-educated public will always make kneejerk choices and proposals of the “take away the benefits of convicted rioters” or “bring back hanging” variety. It is true that a thriving democracy relies on educated citizens. But having spent the last fifteen years exploring digital lifelong learning models I would suggest that if you give people a meaningful, compelling and relevant decision to make then (and only then) they will inform themselves perfectly well using search; just as they would around issues like a child’s health symptoms or a legal problem. For instance working with an ethical coffee company last year, one of my suggestions was to allow consumers to set their own price buying online; but to do so by moving sliders to decide how much money should go to farmers, community, development projects and so on; taking Fairtrade to the next level. Of course if having deeply researched a subject people still want to make choices which are unfair or illiberal, it is their society: the principle which Socrates literally died for.

The questions posed by digital media to democracy, are in many ways the same ones which they pose to all old world institutions, including companies and brands. As Nicolas Negroponte wrote in Being Digital in 1995, the media are not just restructuring how messages are distributed, but actually who is in control; moving from a passive audience to active participant or agent. We have adjusted our style of marketing accordingly; for instance modeling strategy on (computer) gaming. But we have hardly changed the democratic access to real decisions a company makes. So that so far it is only protests – by eBay users over a new feature, by a passenger whose guitar was broken by United Airlines, by green leaning Apple fans – which have brought any real response.

But we are starting to see companies embrace a truly participative way of operating, for instance in open innovation. It is most obvious in the case of digital brands where the users create the value – for instance the 15 million user logged venues in Foursquare. And there is just the distant possibility that in future every brand will be more mutualized and democratic. The customer as citizen. Might this not be the key to the value most desired and most distant in all modern marketing – loyalty?

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Am very proud to be on the advisory panel for the Green Awards and herewith our press release:

Date 23rd June 2011 – The INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARDS™, a global programme that recognises innovative and creative approaches to sustainability, is now searching the globe for the true sustainability heroes after establishing its first online global sustainability community and entry platform! This online community will help to connect game changers and innovators globally to share ideas and best practice.

The awards, now in their sixth year are firmly fixed on the sustainable business calendar and will be judged by some of the most influential environmental and sustainability experts internationally including the former presidential candidate for Brazil, Marina Silva, David de Rothschild, Environmentalist & Explorer and Sir Crispin Tickell, the former President of the Royal Geographical Society .

This year, the yet undisclosed Lifetime Achievement Award nominee will need to meet the high benchmark set by Sir David Attenborough CBE, who picked up the inaugural award last year. The coming months will also see the announcement of a list of nominees for the new Best Green Celebrity category, which will be open to a public vote through the new web portal.

Sustainable innovation around technology will be an important focus this year as businesses embark on the journey to a green revolution. It’s clearly evident that there’s an increasing appetite from business and industry for case studies demonstrating excellence and best practice in sustainability issues. And so the race is on to search the globe to unearth this year’s shining examples that will inspire our generation. In fact, this year’s awards are expected to be the biggest and most inspiring yet, with even more entries expected based on the increasing interest in sustainability as ‘being sustainable’ becomes a prerequisite to ‘business as usual’.

Sir Paul Judge, President of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Steering Group Chair commented, “These awards bring together and generate awareness of outstanding ideas and achievements that can help our world become more sustainable by spreading good practice and allowing other organisations to benchmark their own environmental policies and practices.”

According to Ahmed Djoghlaf – Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), one of this year’s judges, “In the wake of the adoption of the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity targets which calls for the engagement of all stakeholders including the business community, it is an honour and a privilege to participate in the 2011 INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARDS™. I am impressed with the positive impact the Award has in promoting and rewarding creativity and dedication. Through example, the Awards is shaping future messages of sustainability and therefore creating the leaders of the green businesses of tomorrow.

To enter and for more details visit


Editors’ Notes:


We inspire innovation for sustainability by recognising people and organisations whose ideas are creating positive change.

International Green Awards 2010 brought together more than 500 leaders from all sizes of companies, each with a similar goal— to learn how companies are adapting and innovating for sustainability.

Take your place in history now!

Example Judges

Sir Crispin Tickell, Former President Royal Geographical Society, UK

Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity under the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP)

David de Rothschild, Environmentalist & Explorer & ‘Plastiki’ Expedition Leader

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency

Jane Davidson, Minister of the Environment, Welsh Assembly

Michelle Laug, Communications Officer, Green Cross International

Liu Jianqiang, Editor, China Dialogue

Marina Silva, Environmental Activist and Politician

Tim Smit, Founder, The Eden Project

Brendan May, UK Chairman, Rainforest Alliance

Aniol Esteban, Head of Environmental Economics, New Economics Foundation

Peter Paul van de Wijs, Managing Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

Malini Mehra FRSA, Centre For Social Markets, India

Prof. Dr. Claudia Kemfert, Head of the Department, Institute of Economic Research

Bonnie Nixon, Executive Director, Sustainability Consortium, USA

Baroness Barbara Young, Chancellor of Cranfield University.

Vicki Buck, Entrepreneur and former Mayor Christchurch

Lance Hosey, President & CEO, GreenBlue USA

Professor Malcolm McIntosh, Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Griffith University, Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)

2011 Categories

Best Green International Business Award (Large/Multi-national)

Best Green International Business Award (Medium)

Best Green Entrepreneur Award (Start-up)

Best Sustainable Investment Award ( BRONZE Partner Emerald Knight)

Best Green Energy Efficiency Initiative Award

Best Green 4R’s Award (Reduction, Reuse, Recycling, Recovery)

Best Green New Product Innovation

Best Green Service Innovation Award

Best Green Conservation and Biodiversity Award

Best Green Water Stewardship Award

Best Green Collaborative Initiative Award

Best Green Technology Award (BRONZE Partner Danwood)

Best Green Intelligent Buildings Award

Best Green Public Sector Award

Best Green Educational Awareness and Sustainability Award

Best Green Not for Profit Organisation Award

Best Green Employee Engagement Award

Best Green Cross Platform Digital Media Solution Award

Best Green Advertising & PR Award

Best Green Audio-Visual Award

International Green Awards Grand Prix

Lifetime Achievement Award

Best International Green Awards Celebrity

Follow us on Twitter:

Visit our LinkedIn Profile:

Watch our YouTube Channel:

See our Facebook group:

Join our Facebook page:

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Wood You Buy It?

A couple of years ago I read a very moving book about deforestation by an accidental activist (it started with his holiday in Cambodia) - My Journey With a Remarkable Tree by Ken Finn. About how these beautiful ancient spirit trees were via illegal logging and export finding their way into garden furniture sold in the UK.

I'd stored away the thought that I should do something to somehow pass the message on - and now I have the chance.

There's a new WWF campaign all about "putting more pressure on suppliers to show evidence of where their wood goods originate. As consumers, an easy first step is to demand that shops sell responsibly-sourced FSC-certified wood products. We need the government to push businesses in the right direction too." Here's the campaign video

And you can learn more about how to get involved at

Monday, 4 April 2011

A Nation of Green Shoppers?

Interesting report published in March from the CBI on the role of green consumerism in delivering a low carbon society.

cbi website

The crux of it seems to be that energy efficiency is well established as a motivation, whereas green concerns remain marginal. The report suggests stronger links are made between the two.

Others (eg Tom Crompton) have argued that we need to tackle people's values - and that energy efficiency in particular leads to little or no real carbon saving, due to indirect rebound effects.

But there is no arguing with the basic lack of consideration of environment as a criteria in major purchases - as shown by this data:

It's also something of a relief to return to the "people don't care enough" lament - after those (2007-09) years when myself and many others would push the opposite view that 70-80% were very concerned about climate change and were taking action. When you recognise the problem - that it's marginal - you are bolder in thinking of ways to tackle it?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

New article for Sublime magazine (draft - comments?)

The Naked Truth

Imagine by some future quirk of human evolution, telepathy is a reality. But there is a twist. Rather than hearing others’ thoughts in proximity (as if they were auditory, and hence limited by the same physics), we would filter out very large parts of what everyone else was thinking, and only hear others’ thoughts (from anywhere in the world) if they were about us.

You’d think it would be the death of indiscretion? But quite the opposite. Because of course, if you think about it, I just described one of the many stubbornly strange features of social media. Let me explain or elaborate, through some typical examples:

- - yesterday I sent a Tweet, asking if anyone else had the experience of making an important business pitch from a train toilet (because it’s the only place where you can both be discreet, and hear the call)? At the time it struck me simply as an amusing new variant on the idea of the “elevator pitch”. But then today my business partner asked me about this. Because my Tweet was in the name of my start-up, and we have Google Alerts. Lucky I suppose at least that i didn't name the client!

- - a few weeks ago, I read a Tweet by a respected author, asking if anyone else thought the main idea of a (well known, current and successful) book by another respected author, was insubstantial and transient? Yes it’s very standard bitching. He probably didn’t even mean it as personally as it sounded. But my very first thought was – oh my god - that thanks to Alerts/Tweetdeck/PR monitoring she would have undoubtedly read his comment too.

- - some years ago, when blogging was at a similar stage, I wrote a light hearted post complaining about the demise of the seriously mad 1970s self-help scene (Est, rebirthing and similar) dwindling, in my view, to the half hearted, lifestyle pap that was “Psychologies” magazine. And of course the very first comment was from the editor of Psychologies, herself: wondering if I had read it, or was qualified to cast such aspersions? (Fair point).

It’s all a bit like the scene from the Woody Allen movie, “Annie Hall”: where Marshall McLuhan - playing himself - is brought into an argument between Allen and someone who had been pontificating loudly about McLuhan’s work (in the queue outside a cinema). “If only life were like this” comments Allen as McLuhan won the argument for him. Although the line from this scene that sticks with you more is probably “Oh, for a sock full of horse manure”.

Being confronted by who you detract is some kind of defining dilemma of social media. “On the internet no-one knows you are a dog.” They used to say. Whereas now, in web 2.0 it's more that: "anyone instantly knows if you call them a dog"?

I suppose it is a matter of habits catching up with a new quirk of social communication? Either we will be more honest, or more guarded, who knows?

But what about the generalised effects of sharing private thoughts so publically? Is it changing the nature of our discourse, our culture? Making us more emotionally explicit. There are theories that Facebook is making the English less reserved, and making men less prone to hiding their feelings. Research into social media like Facebook shows that being single will incline people to reveal significantly greater quantities of personal information. Other research into the phenomenon of couples who met online shows it is a media almost perfectly adapted to the process of falling in love (because it accentuates positive projections - like "we are so alike" - while providing fewer of the bubble bursting cues and clues we get on meeting in reality). Russell Davies complained about this to me once - that his global team meetings on (the then new) Second Life were always haunted by the suspicion of flirting. Is that it? Are we inadvertently using "love letters" as a medium for other purposes? Russell will no doubt pop up to comment!

It may be just me. But when I sat down to write “an article” some years ago, I’d never have dreamed of using the word “I”. Let alone revealing personal details. Now I write as I blog. As a form of thinking aloud. And I assume you - the reader - are used to being addressed in this way. So that our communications are more personal, one to one. Am I right? Is our discourse becoming more intimate? In the online edition, perhaps you too can comment and let me know?

Back at Marshall McLuhan, I rather doubt that the medium is the message. I tend to think that the media are only partly instrumental – expressing (rather than ever entirely causing) some broader trend, some pattern or reconfiguration. That the Romans made the roads more than the roads made the Romans. (The proposition that sticks in my mind from his famous book being that “the radio made Hitler” – as if economic depression, radical right politics, scapegoating mechanisms writ large and other factors played no role).

I would hazard a guess that we have been drawn to the precise modern forms of social media – including this "directed telepathy" and their general broadcasting of our inmost thoughts – by some cultural tide. It might the radical loneliness of competitive individualism (where everyone is a pseudo pop star and hence no one feels that they have any real friends)? It might be that we are evolving into Rifkin’s “Empathic Civilisation” (which I discussed in a previous column)? It might be something more enigmatic. A re-emerging small world consciousness that’s reviving something like a palpable sense of "Fate"?

I suspect that personally - cultural trends aside - it’s also simply good to blurt every now and then. Even if occasionally embarrassing, or humiliating, for ourselves, or others. There’s something healthy and wholesome and right about speaking the truth. Not the factual truth. Nor the kind of truth that is deployed in “feedback” to curb or manipulate another. But the sort of objective, emotional truth – often, a shock of self recognition – that you find occasionally in movies, and poetry and glances in the mirror.

I have no idea why I would tell you all this. I'm just thinking aloud. But then again, isn’t that my point?

Friday, 11 February 2011

Interview on Green Marketing

To celebrate the launch of the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) "The Marketing Century" book next friday (which I wrote the chapter on sustainability and marketing in) here is a video interview with yours truly from my friends at Wiley.

More on the Marketing Century book at the Cim site here

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Green Book - a worthy winner

(via my friends at Grayling)

Open Planet Ideas from Open Planet Ideas on Vimeo.

After three months of concepting, collaboration and evaluation, Sony and WWF have today announced that the GreenBook concept by Paul Frigout has been selected as the final concept to be taken through to realisation from the innovative community platform, Open Planet Ideas.

Reinventing community activism to attract the Facebook generation, ‘GreenBook’ is a cross platform software application. Geo-location and social gaming techniques are used to create a new method of informal, 'flash mob' volunteering, where friends locate each other and congregate to work together on short tasks. Individuals can post their needs and offer their services, as well as make donations, sign e-petitions, get information, win rewards for participation and share their stories.
The decision was made after the expert panel investigated the shortlisted three entries, consulting with the creators and considering technical feasibility and potential for impact. Other shortlisted concepts included The Identifying & Recording Wildlife concept by Juliet Wilson and the Network of Real-time Wireless Micro Weather Stations for Microclimate Monitoring by Regis Zimmer.

Paul Frigout, also known as ‘Siniuc’ in the digital world, will now have the once in a lifetime chance to realise his concept working with Sony Europe’s R&D and design teams, WWF experts and members of the IDEO creative team.

Morgan David, head of Sony’s Broadcast & Professional Research Labs and member of the Open Planet Ideas expert panel, said: “We chose this idea because of its huge potential to bring people together and motivate participation. We believe GreenBook will breathe new life into the age old concept of volunteering through the application of cutting edge social technology. “

Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, Corporate Relations Director at WWF International said: “We feel this is an exciting concept that will enable people to come together to support and give their time and energy to their local area and address some of the key environmental challenges that we are facing today.”

The intention is to develop and pilot the software with third parties and release it as a ‘white label’ application for any organisation to use. Initial feedback from volunteering organisations has already been very positive. For example volunteering charity TimeBank, welcomed the ‘Greenbank’ concept.

CEO of TimeBank Helen Walker, said: “At TimeBank we are committed to exploring ways of engaging new audiences in volunteering. This concept takes advantage of the increasing use of smart phones and the techniques used in social gaming to engage with a new generation of volunteers. This use of cutting edge, social networking technology could be a powerful tool to enable volunteering to become part of the fabric of everyday life, anywhere in the world.”
Open Planet Ideas received over 400 innovative concepts from budding designers across the world, all hoping their idea would be selected by the project’s panel of experts, as ‘the most innovative new way to use existing technology to help preserve our planet’s natural resources’.

For further information, please visit

Monday, 15 November 2010

Yours truly at PSFK London

... where I returned to a long running theme of mine (I used to call this "the campaign for real innovation")

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

10/10/10 - the world's biggest party (

This just through from our friends at

"The world is throwing a party this Sunday, and we wanted to make sure you got the invitation.

This summer, a series of unprecedented natural disasters including floods, fires, landslides, droughts and record heat showed the world that our global warming future is already a scary reality.

This weekend, on 10/10/10, hundreds of thousands of people from 176 nations will participate in a global work party to demonstrate an alternative path to their leaders. These people are tired of watching catastrophes unfold while politicians fail to act to curb rising carbon emissions. They also want to have some fun.

So instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for politicians to do something, you can use this day to join with others to work on creative climate solutions in your own community.

In the U.S., friends in New Mexico will install a solar panel at a local homeless shelter, Atlanta parishioners will weatherize their church, and Californians will hold bike repair workshops. Internationally, Pakistanis will rally together in the flood-ravaged village of Booni, youth in Kabul will begin to replant their deforested nation, and the President of Maldives will install solar panels on his official residence.

All told, more than 5900 events are scheduled across the world, making it the largest day of practical climate action the planet has ever seen.

Grassroots organizers, led by, don't pretend they can save the world from global warming by planting trees for a day. Instead, 10/10/10 is about sending a powerful message that the world is ready to combat climate change, and that leaders need to get to work to make that happen.

It's not too late to sign-up for an event on Sunday or to organize one in your town. Get involved by signing's pledge to participate, check out some cool events and ideas, and leave a comment to tell us your plans for 10/10/10.