5 posts categorized "Greenwash Marketing"

October 08, 2010

The FTC Wants Your Green Marketing Comments by December


Screen shot 2010-10-08 at 1.29.22 PM Ok green bloggers, here is your chance to influence governmental policy without going through that painful voting process -- the FTC wants to know what you think about the messaging on green products. In other words, how do you want them to put truth into green advertising via their Green Guidelines?  Go here to tell them, you have until December 10, 2010. 

Some example language...

• Marketers should not make unqualified general environmental benefit claims. They are difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate. (The current Guides state that marketers can make unqualified claims if they can substantiate all express and implied claims. Otherwise, they should qualify the claim.)

• Qualifications should be clear and prominent, and should limit the claim to a specific benefit. Marketers should ensure the advertisement’s context does not imply deceptive environmental claims. (In the current Guides, this guidance appears only in examples.)

Certifications and Seals of Approval

• This new section emphasizes that certifications/ seals are endorsements covered by the Commission’s Endorsement Guides and provides new examples illustrating how those Guides apply to environmental claims (e.g., marketers should disclose material connections to the certifier). (The current Guides address certifications/seals in only one example in the general environmental benefit section. 16 CFR 260.7, Example 5.)

• Because an unqualified certification/seal (one that does not state the basis for certification) likely conveys a general environmental benefit claim, marketers should use clear and prominent language limiting the claim to particular attribute(s) for which they have substantiation. (This provision highlights guidance already provided in current Guides’ Example 5.)

• Third-party certification does not eliminate a marketer’s obligation to have substantiation for all conveyed claims.

For the full write up go to http://www.ftc.gov/green.

These guidelines are extremely important as they become the backbone for all marketing material being created. It's one thing to be green and another thing to convey the attributes correctly and not mislead the public. 

The guidelines also cover:

  • Degradable materials
  • Compostable materials
  • Ozone-Safe / Ozone-Friendly
  • Made with Recyclable Materials
  • Free of AND Non-toxic products
  • Made with Renewable Energy
  • Carbon Offsets

Green is no longer a nice thing to do to create a new marketing edge. It is THE thing to do and we need a common, public way to talk about the accomplishments. 

October 13, 2009

Sustainable Standards: What are the Consumer's Opinions?

On October 1, Wal Mart asked its 100,000 suppliers to fill out 15 questions relating to their sustainability. It was just a request, but in doing so it set an expectation of what is to come - manufacturers will be expected to answer harder and harder questions about their sustainable attributes. Wal Mart and its BBFs (Big Box Friends) have created a consortium to set a Sustainable Index for the world.

I have a question for Wal Mart, why aren't consumers part of your consortium? They don't have $250,000 for the entry fee or even the $25,000 you're asking the small businesses to pay, they've been priced out, yet consumers are 100% of the retail consortium's buyer base. Don't their opinions count? Shouldn't the buyers of your products get a say in helping you form this developing standard with global implications? [the entry fee has been lowered since this was published - MH 11.1.09]

This month's Green Mom Carnival was inspired by this gap in communications. What do the carnivalites think about Wal Mart's and friends Sustainability Index? When should we have standards and what do we want included? 

NEW Beth Terry on Fake Plastic Fiswas late to the carnival, but her post is so on-target with the concerns and issues that this retail consortium's creates. If you have one post to read, read her's. Then read the rest and get the background and additional viewpoints. Wal Mart is right about one thing, this is bigger than just them - it's about all of us

Eco Baby Steps did a bang up job of defining what standards, certifications, seals and more are and are not. Start with this blog to get your base of operations on this confusing world of standards. 

Katy at Non-Toxic Kids just submitted her post explaining the consortium players and connections. Because it goes hand-in-hand with the above, I'm adding her to the top of the submissions.

Over on Citizen Green the subject of having a standard for green events is addressed. I'm with ya. Have you ever seen a street after the parade or attended a trade show? The pile of leftover litter is so unnecessary. Be sure to catch her tip list before you manage your next event. 

Ambejoins as newbie this month to the Green Mom Carnival, her first post on Wal Mart's Sustainability Index can be found here. Her readers had a very strong pro/con reaction, some even thought that Wal Mart planted responses! 

Karen has her say over over on Best of Mother Earth. You remember Karen, she's the one who ranted about a 12 year old McDonald's hamburger that never rotted and the post went viral? In this post she expresses the skepticism and fear many of us feel about standards and their ilk. 

Diane on Big Green Purse has been a strong advocate of standards for years. Her summary will make you think twice about the labels you follow now. She wants the standards that do stand the test of public opinion to be meaningful. 

Erin adds a very poignant view and coordinating story that brings home the message of engagement and participation in the new standards - read it for a look inward at yourself. 

One of the originators of the Green Mom Carnival, Lynn (Organicmania), extends the conversation on the lack of consumer participation in the sustainability index. Lynn's a long time supporter of the Wal Mart sustainability direction, read her reaction here.  

This is a very globe reaching subject. My thanks to the women who take their high standards seriously and hope that the retail giants of the world do as well. Please visit their thoughtful posts and leave your comments. 

March 23, 2008

Bringing Blogland and "Green"land Together

Blog_talk_radioToby Bloomberg, who hosts a regular Blog Talk Radio program, invited me and Ginny Dyson  to discuss the intersection of Social Media and Greenwash Free Marketing.  (Thanks Toby!)

Ginny works in commercial design and is considered to be the Sustainability Strategist at DMJM H&M. She spoke from the B2B side. I was there to address the B2C issues in Sustainability and how to keep the message from turning into greenwash. You can listen to our conversations here.

The Blog Talk format is a new way to get out information in a time crunched society. The 30 minute program can be downloaded or just play in the background on your computer, while you go on with your work.  For a full rundown on the program, go to Toby's Blog here or just give a listen.

The commonalities between Social Media and Greenwash Free Marketing

1. Transparency – Can you see the proof? Blogland and Greenland come together.
2. Authentic – Can you prove it? Blogland and Greenland come together again.
3. Getting your message across – Is your green story repeatable?

Develop A Credible Green Marketing Strategy

  • Get your product certified as Sustainable. You can’t claim you’re “Sustainable” until you do.
  • Use LCA, Life Cycle Assessment, Third Party Audits and of course Standards in your blog posts and links.
  • Partner with other bloggers and businesses who are Climate Change evangelists first and business people second.
  • Create ONE Summary Sheet of all green facts pertaining to your company and product. This isn’t a branding document, it’s raw data and the proof behind everything you say on blogs.
  • Take the word to the women who do 80% of the buying and word of mouth influencing.

March 17, 2008

Canadian Ad Guidelines (just in time for St. Patrick's Day)

After the consumers (women) of Canada complained about the claims being put on VitaSea clothing, the Canadian government is reacting. Why is it that it's always after the fact and after many people complain before companies do the right thing? It's another reason for Marianne's post on the need for green standards. Trust, but verify.  Check corpwatch for examples of greenwash.

According to the article by Greenbiz the following flagged the need for guidelines.

"In November 2007 the Bureau forced Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica to remove any references to the therapeutic benefits of its VitaSea clothing products because it made claims that could not be verified. The clothing's advertising said it would release minerals and vitamins in to the wearer's skin when wet and could improve skin in a variety of ways and reduce stress.

Ladies, take a bow. Because you questioned the authority of a marketing message, Canada in putting together guidelines for honesty. The EPA already has green guidelines. You can find them here or I'll also keep them handy under Culture Shifters to the left.

The message is clear to companies in Canada and the U.S., it's time to put truth into all advertising or someone will question your authenticity; and that affects that other form of green. 

Today's green post is in honor of my Irish Grandmother, Margaret Clare McShane. Erin Go Bragh!

February 28, 2008

What Will Oprah Do to NOT Blow her Brand?

What will Oprah do when the consumption lights fully light up and she has to take a stand and promote only Sustainable products or blow her brand? What's her brand? Oprah Cares. Why might she blow it? Because you can't do right by the world and promote billions of dollars of non-sustainable stuff in the same space - at the same time.

On yesterday's show, Oprah covered the art of Freegan Living with Lisa Ling. (love Lisa's reporting style) Freegan Living takes dumpster diving to a new level - those who can afford to buy anything, yet choose to obtain most of their day-to-day stuff from dumpsters.

It was an important show for many iconic reasons:

  1. It demonstrated how wasteful we are as a society.
  2. Oprah acknowledged the irony of hosting this topic and then cutting to a commercial where someone was going to sell you something.
  3. It introduced the concept that LESS (much less) is "more living" for the society. That concept is being amplified through all the other Green sites.

Then this morning, I'm exchanging emails with Jason from Scream to be Green, and he tells me about LivingOprah. (thanks Jason) Turns out it's a performing artist in Chicago. She decided to try to live the Oprah life at it is featured each week because the culture is Oprah and Oprah is the culture. It's a brilliant concept, kudos for the idea. There is no way to contact the "artist" however, so for all I know it could be one, big setup by Harpo Productions to glean information. There's a survey on the site that asks if you subscribe to Oprah's magazines or not. (hey, I'm a born again skeptic) [Correction: the artist saw this post and assured me, that Harpo has nothing to do with it, and she put up a way to contact her.]

GarbageTwo minutes later, I'm skyping my husband who is working in Naples, Italy and he's describing the ever-present trash in the city. "There is smoke in my hotel room everyday with the smell of burning trash... smells mostly of plastic." Then he described his weekend boat trip to a nearby island. "the boat went through layers of junk, mostly plastic, you could hear it scraping on the side of the boat."

Wow, so much for the amore of Italy. Pretty disgusting. You hear that and it sure doesn't make you want to run to the mall and buy more junk and carry it home in a plastic bag. It doesn't even make me want to be on Oprah's Favorite Things show, the hottest ticket of the year and a show that can make or break an emerging business.

Which brings me to my final point...

I have a big favor to ask you Oprah, since you are culture and culture is you, could you do us all a favor and have a show dedicated to Sustainable Standards? We need a big name consumer champion to keep Wal Mart and other big box stores on track. Educate your world of women and you can single handedly set off a market transformation. Don't talk about green, talk about products and processes that can prove they don't put dioxins in our air, or chemicals into our children and most of all CO2 in the atmosphere. The White House doesn't control the world of consumer consumption - YOU DO.

Here's my wish list line up:

  • EcoMom Alliance (they are probably already on Oprah's radar after the NY Times article)
  • Big Green Purse (Diane MacEachern's scientific and pragmatic approach to shifting buying dollars from pollution to solution - the book and the site)
  • Annie Leonard (her Story of Stuff explains the problem in everyday language)
  • Mike Italiano (SMaRT the solution)  (Sustainable Material Rating Technology, it takes away the problem by providing a standard that is ethical, accountable and greenwash free. Consumers want truth and investors need quanitfied proof.

That's a show in itself right there. Will Oprah do it? It's a VERY scary move for  her economically if she did. She's in the same place the big chains are in, she's a promoter of goods and has to make a living while promoting the very things that cause her female viewers problems. That's not good, but I believe in Oprah. More than not wanting to break her brand, she understands that you either "stand for something or stand for nothing." She keeps saying how she doesn't need the money. This one move would prove that beyond a doubt and set off a tipping point for social change like the world has never seen.