She also mentions the huge energy giant British Petroleum (BP) came up with some honest and effective marketing in its green promotions. And while it is laudable for an oil company to invest in green technologies, BP did it with “appropriate humility that admits its own guilt while setting the stage for conversion to alternative energy sources” (Ottman, 2002). Meantime she says to Exxon, “Wake Up!” because Exxon was at that time running “green-themed” ads that spoke to the need to “find more oil.”
In still another green marketing-themed article from Ottman, she writes in the publication in Business that while the George W. Bush Administration “abdicates responsibility for a strong response to slowing down” global climate change, Bush’s lack of leadership on the issue opened a “unique window of opportunity for America’s advertisers and marketers” (Ottman, 2002). That advice to advertisers and marketers is this: using the same effective communication techniques that were employed in the “stop smoking” and “buckle up” campaigns, design campaigns that “make it cool for Americans to take a stand on climate change” (Ottman, 2002).
The federal government has jumped into the green marketing genre in a big way. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics produced a document called “Greening Your Products: Good for the environment, good for your bottom line” (EPA, 2002). Section 1 explains the important approach to developing products that “have preferable environmental attributes when compared with similar products.” By doing that, companies and entrepreneurs can increase market share, reduce operating costs and increase employee participation and morale (and also, “strengthen the company’s image in the community) (EPA, 2002).
For the uninitiated the EPA document explains that there is indeed a market for green products and gives examples of green products (fluorescent bulbs, 50% postconsumer paper, and processed chlorine free paper).
Moreover, the EPA puts businesses and entrepreneurs in touch with “Green Seal” in order to certify whatever product or service the business wants to market. Green Seal is “The Mark of Environmental Responsibility” and for a business to be officially certified as having a green product, it must pass muster with Green Seal (www.greenseal.org). If the product that a business wants to get certified passes all the inspections necessary, the product or service is then given the “Green Seal Certification Mark” along with text that spells out “the environmental preferability” of the product (www.greenseal.org).
On the Web site Business.Gov (sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration) the green marketing regulations are available to be reviewed and printed out. Before a company goes into a marketing campaign for a green-related product, that company must be sure it can legally make certain claims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has rules that “prohibit deceptive acts or practices in advertising, labeling, product inserts, catalogs, and sales presentations” (www.business.gov). The regulations must be complied with or there will be penalties to pay. On the www.business.gov page, there are: guides for making “environmental marketing claims”; information on “how to comply with environmental marketing guidelines”; how to be legal when mailing materials that contain environmental marketing claims; how to “read and interpret environmental claims” made in any advertising or marketing campaign; and “Eco-Speak: A User’s Guide to the Language of Recycling” (www.business.gov).
In the publication Strategic Direction an article offers suggestions on how a company can successfully market green products. Eight to ten percent (as of 2008) of consumers are “up for dark green lifestylescomposting and micro-generation”; twenty to forty percent are ready for “light green changesa smaller car, fewer flights”; and sixty to eighty percent of consumers are “up for no-brainersturning down the thermostats to save energy and at the same time heating bills” (Grant, 2008). That said, Grant insists there is a “much bigger swing in consumer attitudes” just ahead; social pressure will come into play and people will be drawn to marketing that promotes sustainable products and services, he adds. Grant, author of the book the Green marketing Manifesto, suggests companies and entrepreneurs focus on “a need, not its current delivery form.” Also, Grant writes that one workable trend is moving away from “centralized messages and activities” and moving into projects that are “more open and conversational in involving people with the brandand with each other” (Grant, 2008).
He sites the example of Amazon’s success with the customer reviews which people leave for others to read; also, Grant things a great way to be more green in marketing is to tell every customer: “people who liked X also liked Y” (Grant, 2008).
TerraChoice Environmental Marketing (TEM) considers itself one of the top companies in the field of eco-marketing (“North America’s premier environmental marketing firm”). In September 2009 the company issued a “green purchasing report” — an annual survey of green purchasing patters that polled “more than 580 professional purchasers” in the U.S. And Canada (www.terrachoice.com). What TEM found was that “more than half” of the 580 professional purchasers have purchased more green-related products and services in the last year than “ever before.” Also 83% of those purchasers expect to purchase even more green products and more than three quarters (76.3%) believe the Obama Administration is “having a positive impact” on green purchasing in North America. So marketing is working and the current president has set a better tone than the last resident of the White House as far as environmental sensibilities, according to TerraChoice.
On a more edgy note, Toby Maureen Smith’s book, the Myth of Green Marketing: Tending Our Goats at the Edge of the Apocalypse, casts real doubt on the sustainability and veracity of the green marketing movement. “The myth of green consumerism operates as a suture,” Smith writes; that is, a suture to “attempt to hide the wound that contemporary environmentalists are making to the smooth fabric of productivist discourse” (Smith, 1998, p. 7). In this context one assumes Smith is using productivist in a critical sense, to mean a society whose ethic is to blindly produce more and more. And Smith goes on to assert that “green consumerism” as it is promoted today, “probably has no effect on cleaning up the ecosystem” — the “over-logging, over-cropping, and over-grazing” along with the pollution due to cars and trucks and the “pumping of industrial effluent into the atmosphere and waterways” (p. 7).
One can argue that green marketing and green consumerism isn’t geared up to be fixing all the environmental problems in the country so why expect this to happen? But Smith is taking the position that all the conscious raising eco-marketing notwithstanding, “In any actualized solution, green consumerism would have to be integrated into any overall plan for domestic waste management, pollution reduction, and sustainable community” (p. 7). Smith adds that the “cheerleaders of sustainable expansionistic enterprise fail to be adequately critical because they assume, rather than argue, that is possible to build a conserver society while increasing resource depletion and energy consumption” (p. 8). Smith’s is a thoughtful albeit cryptic position; to wit, the marketers of green should perhaps think more logically and carefully about what the impact on the existing resources will be on each product they sell and not just on its carbon footprint.
Taking the exact opposite tack from Smith nine years later is author John Grant (the Green Marketing Manifesto) who states that “We are on the verge of a green innovation revolution. it’s already started in fact,” Green enthuses. He suggests that a great example of green marketing is the promo video for the 2006 hit single by Eric Prydz. In the video, some apparently delinquent boys are breaking into houses carrying bricks, but wait. They’re breaking into these homes to make energy-efficient improvements (putting bricks in the toilet cisterns to reduce water used during flushing) and putting bricks in the fridge (heat sinks). Also the boys replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient CFLs. The pop video makes the following points that Grant makes in his book as well:
One, most people are “nice” and are not antisocial or “apathetic”; two, being green is not just a strategy for middle class, liberal, educated people — it’s “everyone’s issue”; three, we can’t rely on governments, corporations — we need to take responsibility ourselves; four, green marketing can and should be “funky, edgy, intriguing, playful, impactful and creative”; and five, “it doesn’t even have to look “green” to be effective (Grant, pp. 19-20).
A book by John F. Wasik (Green Marketing & Management: A Global Perspective) takes the position that “holistic management” is what is needed prior to green marketing. “Holistic managementunifies human and ecological needs,” Wasik writes (Wasik, 1996, p. 52), and he lauds the holistic management of Tom Chappell, CEO of Tom’s of Maine. Tom’s toothpaste and his other products are manufactured using environmental codes, and part of Tom’s marketing includes the promotion of his “Statement of Beliefs” (p. 52). Those beliefs are too lengthy to record in this space but the last on…