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GDUSA Green Newsletter
JUNE 2011




There is a watershed debate now taking place about the future of green marketing to consumers. It arises from a sense among consumer product companies, and their creative agencies, that green messages built on appeals to save the planet or to our collective guilt are just not working. In May, industry guru Joel Makower penned a controversial piece — “Green Marketing Is Over. Let’s Move On” — observing that “no environmentally preferable car, carpet, cleaner, cosmetic, clothing, coffee, credit card, or cell phone” has captured more than a sliver of its market. Similarly, last month’s GDUSA Green Enews cited an OgilvyEarth study which criticizes advertisers and designers for promoting “green” in a self-righteousness and elitist manner. No one truly believes in abandoning the enterprise. But we do need to press the reset button: drop the guilt-trip; stop the lazy use of nature icons in place of real strategy; position brands to reveal the benefit of the consumer first and foremost; and improve the often ineffective or overpriced products themselves. Easier said than done, but it is the way forward.
– Gordon Kaye


Green News


The RadiantBrands design agency has completed a branding project to bring People Towels, a reusable organic towel made from Fair Trade cotton, to the shelves of The Container Store and Whole Foods Market. The project included designing new packaging that explains how reusable towels offer an environmentally responsible alternative to paper towels. The new packaging emphasizes consumer value and the sustainability of the reusable paper towels. After conducting market research using Facebook and customer surveys, the Berkeley CA-based designers determined that People Towels needed instore packaging that was minimal, yet explained the full story of why consumers need to adopt reusable towels.

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A new project coming later this summer from former Re-nourish partner Jess Sand will make sustainable design more accessible, and more practical, for the industry. Sustainable Design Labs (SDL) is an online learning lab for designers of all levels, giving the field an independent space to explore the sometimes uncomfortable environmental and social issues facing designers and their supply chain. Sand is launching SDL as a participatory nonprofit project to challenge the design status quo and provide a space for unconventional thinking that helps designers take control of their footprint. LEARN MORE >

One of the challenges facing all of us to some degree is, having survived the recession, where do we go now? We're all looking for meaning and impact, personally and professionally. Most of us are doing more with less on all fronts. Smaller budgets to work with. Smaller staffs. Heightened expectations. So many additional demands - that it can cause you to lose focus. To make a difference and to get results, personally or professionally, you need clarity. I like to use these challenges as a refresher course on how to embrace a philosophy of continual improvement. The Japanese have a great term for it - Kaizen, which means “improvement” or “change for the better.” This philosophy encourages continual incremental improvements in all aspects of your life. Its guiding principles include: teamwork, personal discipline, improved morale, quality control and suggestions for improvement ... As a leader when you notice that energy levels feel flat and the spark that makes you excited to get up every day is clearly not shared by your team, or your clients, or your family-do something different! If we have learned anything from the last few years, it should be that change is the new normal. Let's all take the opportunities that come our way for kaizen and do our own "spring cleaning."
R. Christine Hershey, President, Hershey/Cause


The USDA’s replacement for the ubiquitous food pyramid — MyPlate — is “designed to be more artistic and attractive and to serve as a visual cue for diners,” said Robert Post of the Agriculture Department's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.” First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled the symbol earlier this month. Adds Surgeon General Regina Benjamin: “The new icon is simple and easy to understand, with more emphasis placed on fruits and vegetables.” The plate-shaped diagram, essentially in the form of a pie chart, may give Americans an easier way to envision a mix of food groups on plates or in bowls; the groups have been rearranged in an effort at user-friendly design. An extensive program of print collateral and interactive materials have also been developed by the agency. Early design commentators approve — the old MyPyramid branding was considered confusing — but note that a simple pie chart would have been more conventional to show relationships of elements in a circular form. LEARN MORE >


After two decades, the Energizer Battery Company has changed its popular "keep going" tagline to one that embraces an uplifting, planet-helping message that many brands are embracing these days: “Now that's positivenergy.” So far the change has only taken place in Canada, with a campaign kicked off by ad agency TBWA. It features an online pledge campaign rallying consumers to “Do Something Little. Help Something Big.” The battery maker also donated $100,000 to the non-profit group Evergreen to support energy conservation and create more green spaces. P-O-P and print ads direct consumers online to a website where they can take an online pledge to do a positive act, which will automatically send a $1 donation from Energizer to Evergreen. Kent Hatton, brand group director, said the marketing platform came out of research which suggests consumers feel a greater sense of environmental responsibility than they have in the past. LEARN MORE >


Created by BBR Saatchi & Saatchi in Tel Aviv for Israeli energy company Shikun & Binui Solaria, this print ad promotes green energy by being solar-powered itself. In the magazine, it’s a black-and-white sketch. Held up to sunlight, it bursts into full color. LEARN MORE >


A California woman cannot sue Fiji Water for false advertising based on the company’s use of a green drop on the label. Ayana Hill filed a class action against Fiji claiming that the green drop falsely characterized the water as environmentally superior to other brands and as endorsed by an environmental organization. The trial court ruled against Hill, claiming that she failed to state a claim. The San Francisco-based First District California Court of Appeals agreed.“The problem for Hill is that she cannot show from the green drop, the website reference or the ‘Every Drop Is Green’ slogan, a representation in Fiji advertising that would mislead a reasonable person,” Justice James Richman wrote for the court.