I've been involved in sustainability and purpose long enough to witness the growth of “greenwashing” infectious marketing, but I've also been able to develop some “immune immunity” strategies to it. My greenwash inoculation is needed now more than ever, as regulatory powers are about to be used against baseless eco claims. Now, more than ever, consumers want to know that you're serious about issues like climate, plastics and pollution. It's time to focus on marketing.
The history of greenwashing can be traced back decades, but the term itself dates back to the 1980s, when luxury hotels in Fiji asked guests to reuse towels to reduce damage to marine life. , built by rapidly expanding environmental activist Jay Westervelt. The noble plea concealed the fact that the hotel's construction had destroyed the local ecosystem and “all was exposed”.
At the same time, oil company Chevron's “People Do” campaign lit up American TV screens, asserting the company's dedication to protecting endangered species. Criticism quickly mounted, and a new term, “greenwashing,” took hold. DuPont will soon be subject to the tax for a 1991 ad that showed a seal clapping and a dolphin jumping, apparently applauding the company's environmental efforts. We recommend searching for it online. It helps to see your toes curl.
The hard truth is that businesses engage in greenwashing, whether intentionally or not. Green sells. This was true in the early 1990s, when a survey found that 77% of Americans said a company's environmental reputation influenced what they purchased. And that's even truer now. According to research conducted by my company, Futerra, 88% of people in the US and UK want brands to help them live greener and more ethically in their daily lives.
Regulators took time to catch up. But the past few years have seen an explosion of new laws and restrictions that seek to maintain (much-needed) control over how companies talk about their environmental credentials.
●With a revolutionary move, EU parliament is a law that prohibits, among other things, companies from making misleading or unsubstantiated green claims such as “eco-friendly,” “eco-friendly,” “natural,” “recycled,” or “biodegradable.” has just been adopted. If you rely on carbon offsets, claims to be “carbon neutral” are not acceptable and claims about product durability need to be realistic. These terms are not completely prohibited, but you should be confident in your proof.
● Across EuropeFossil fuel advertising has been completely banned in France, Amsterdam, Somerset and recently Stockholm. I predicted this trend years ago and predicted that oil and gas advertising would replace cigarettes.
● In England, the Advertising Standards Authority has just banned a Toyota ad that used images of lush forests and rivers to promote an environmentally harmful SUV. Attention is focused not only on specific claims, but also on background images and “implicit” environmental benefits.
● In Australiathe Australian National Advertisers Association has proposed stronger regulations for advertising green claims, including the need for evidence and a ban on vague or misleading claims.
And the responsibility doesn't just lie with brands. Advertising agencies are increasingly being forced to acknowledge their role in perpetuating climate change. For example, the United Nations-backed Race to Zero now requires advertising agencies to reveal their clients and take responsibility for the impact of their “advertised carbon.” And with initiatives like France's Publicé Responsable encouraging companies to sign public “responsible marketing agreements”, expectations for transparency are only increasing.
As environmentally conscious Generations Z and Alpha grow up, the demand for sustainability and purpose marketing will only increase, but the issue is not simple and the consequences are serious.
So what should marketers do?
My guess is that you are an honest marketer with an honest product. (If you're looking for tips to get around the rules, you're in the wrong place!). However, even with good intentions, Anyone You may accidentally greenwash your product. This is the most important thing to remember. Most greenwashing is a mistake made by good marketers, not a malicious attempt to mislead.
Morality does not protect against mistakes.
Therefore, the first and most important thing you can do is Learn regulations thoroughly. Check the latest regulations in your country and keep an eye on emerging regulations around the world. It's worth looking at the big picture to see where things are heading. Invest the time and hire experts to help you and your team stay up to date with these rapidly changing rules. And test your agency's knowledge of the latest regulations.
But the best way to prevent greenwashing isn't just knowing the rules. Change your approach to making a “claim” in the first place.
a Complaint concept Put your feet on the road to greenwash. You're already ready for it, you're honing your product, your brand, trying to “get” something. Seeking environmental claims is the same extractive approach that creates environmental problems in the first place.
What would happen if we stopped asking consumers to praise what we do? Most people don't like doing it anyway. Stop heroizing your brand and start heroing the people you care about: your consumers.
The best sustainability marketing is less about you and more about the impact you have on your consumers. She is the main character.
Consider the advertisement for Renault's ZOE electric car. The real-life residents of Appy, a remote village in France, try their hand at driving an electric car for the first time despite their apprehensions (“Will I be able to climb the hill?”), making it the first village where everyone drives an electric car. It will be. Whether it's a father with a teenage daughter, an outdoorsy family or a man working in a quarry, the residents are the heroes of the story and their journey towards sustainability is their own.
Or as IKEA's “Climate Action Starts at Home'' campaign says, “You have the power to make a difference from the moment you wake up.''This film shows how IKEA products can help It aims to reduce food waste, reduce water use and minimize electricity usage, celebrating the impact of these choices rather than the eco-friendly specifications of each product.
All humans are interested in stories. they Not as a faceless brand, but as a hero.So Helping customers become sustainability heroes. Show them the difference their choices make. Celebrate how they prevented kilograms of plastic and carbon from harming the planet. Stop arguing and start helping..
We can make sustainability marketing about what really matters and make sustainable options accessible and exciting for everyone, everywhere.
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