Friday, 28 September 2007

Drawing Board

Here are some new threads I'll be developing over the next week or so. Posting them to get early input:

1. research

The standard surveys of the green marketing opportunity indicate a rising tide, but fail to pinpoint the opportunities. Like all 'trend' thinking its telling us about a drift but what creates progress and feeds real brand development is much sharper local insights and ideas. In evolutionary terms general shifts in conditions favour specific innovations that define success. Dont think about the rock pool (ads with green themes) think about the specific new niches and advantages.

2. sponsorship

The general model of association doesnt cut it with green issues. Green is a factual evaluation, its not about a general quality which rubs off (like 'cool' or 'traditional'). Green sponsorship in general just turns a green searchlight on the brand; if you are green already, or not green already, the result is confirmation but little movement. Sharper sponsorship stratgeies called for:
- advancing an agenda; eg heating accounts for 80% of domestic energy use (hence get a new boiler)
- education; content equiping people to make better decisions and appreciate your lead
- demonstrating your vision/value add by improving something with your involvement
- building a relationship with an opinion forming niche
- supporting a platform which you can learn from and on which you can build

3. digital and sustainability

There is a shared thought style, a way of thinking about flows, connections, efficiencies and so on which make green and digital natural bedfellows. Both about doing, utility, community, co-operation, authenticity, new business concepts etc.


Luke Tipping said...

More super interesting thoughts John.

You're absolutely right about research. Typical of green comms around a year ago, research highlights a trend/those receptive to green comms/the problem, yet fail to elude to the opportunity or solutions that certain audiences are more receptive to.

Interesting thought about sponsorship too. I agree - association is difficult because effective sustainable comms is 'real' and has substance.

However, working on the government's brand Act On Co2, there are a lot of commercial brands who want to become partners with us - seeking credibility, authority etc. We obviously have to be wary being government. Although for us, it's a great opportunity to gain cut-through in a cluttered market.

So maybe sponsorship isn't right, but how about partnerships? For instance, in return for logo association, commercial brands allow us to DM piggy back, use their products and services to give our brand and message stand out. Something far more real than association, as you say.

John Grant said...

Good point on partnerships I will need to work that in. In some ways it is closer to the way people used to believe (not sure they do now) that sponsors genuinely paid for and made what they were supporting possible. Partnerships often give the core idea access to new channels, audiences, promotions etc. too.

Luke Tipping said...

Great :-)

A few weeks ago I started my own 'green' blog at

I've got to change the way it looks etc. but it's essentially my way of confining an unheathly interest in 'green' comms and adding a little extra value to clients. It also bigs up your work a lot.

Is there any chance of adding it to your list of green blogs? Who knows, you may even find a couple of thoughts interesting...



Anonymous said...

Hi John, a few rambling pennies worth..

As we know modern effective comms builds relationships and community, as a consumer I want to feel that the brands I chose to align myself with are partners in the ‘big change’.

This means more intimate communication with me as an individual but how can we achieve this?

A bit of research I’d love to see is an answer to the responsibility question.

Instead of breaking consumers down into labelled sections of a society prepared to/not interested in acting on the green issues, I’d like to know where the consumers feel the responsibility lies, and what they feel are their drivers for action.

Are they motivated to ‘save the planet’, prepare/protect their kids future, want to protect their house from flooding – what are the personal reasons for acting?

And following on from this, where they feel action can be best executed: at the supermarket, through government policy, at home through the web, through education at schools, taxation etc.

Instead of PoS, for me this would help understand the ‘point of action’. I’d like to see the breakdown of where consumers act now, would act if they could and why those points are the best options.

This would help brands to create collaborative/personal comms around the answers, perhaps Eon joining a gov’t sponsored policy change helping to reduce heating emissions, or Tesco creating a ‘box of change tools’ for every school in the country, through a voucher scheme, linked in to the National Curriculum. M&S setting up a ‘Plan A Innovations Centre’, with idea boxes in every store and online.

I totally agree that new models of sponsorship need to be created. I’d like to see brands breakout from traditional association and attempt new approaches that capture their consumers' imaginations.

‘Persil 30 degree campaign, in association with cooler seas’

‘Powergen in association with index fingers’

Consumers need to feel and see individual actions affecting the big issues and this can create great ads. A finger turning off a light switch, linked to others, visually affecting the arctic?

Also sponsorship/partnership between brands in non-competing industries might be cool, HSBC sponsoring free trial packs of Persil, cross-brand collaboration sending the message that, ‘we’re all working together’.