A better kind of advertising?
Many people have chronicled the declining effectiveness of traditional advertising, especially the 30 second TV spot. I first blogged about this four years ago.
I think this is doubly true for communicating a company's sustainability initiatives. It always feels a little hollow when I see TV ads for a (slightly) greener auto or computer or oil company (although from time to time I post notable exceptions on this blog). Sustainability just seems to be too nuanced of a journey to cram into .30 TV spots.
So it was with interest that I read the interview with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard on his approach to sustainability in the July, 2009 issue of Fast Company Magazine. In the interview, Chouinard discussed One Percent for the Planet, which he founded and is recruiting other companies to join.
What's interesting is how he recruits companies to join. Here's his response to the question: "How do you convince companies that eco-philanthropy is worthwhile?"
You have to get away from the idea that it's philanthropy...Think of it as a marketing cost. We'll tell a winery, "Okay, your wines are selling for $10. Charge $10.10. Nobody is not going to buy your wine because it's 10 cents more a bottle. In fact, you can add only 6 cents, because you can write off 40% of your donation on taxes." If you're a gas station and your receipt says, thank you for your purchase; 6 cents will go to the environment, I'll bet a lot of people would go out of their way to buy that gas.
Think of giving money to environmental causes as marketing? This may not work for everyone, but for a company like Patagonia it's perfect. It will work for others too. Rather than spending $10 million on advertising how green your company is, why not give $5 million to a charity like One Percent and then spend the other five telling people that you did. Think of it as one percent for the planet and an extra ten percent for your bottom line.