Category: Green Marketing

Wind Farms Threatened by Oil Giants

Oil Giants May Sue Wind Farms Over Access

Does the greed of Big Oil know no bounds?

As farfetched from reality as one might think, it appears that Britain’s oil industry may sue offshore wind farm developers whose planned projects “are encroaching on areas licensed for oil exploration in the North Sea.”

An item at the Sustainability Forum web site states the UK oil companies claim “wind warms could disrupt mobile drilling rigs and helicopter flights, and get in the way of under-water equipment and oil pipelines.” Read Chris Milton’s scathing comments in his blog post Oil Giants May Sue Wind Farms, which also contains a link to a news item from The Scotsman

One wonders whether to laugh or cry over the gumption of the UK oil industry and their threat to “resort to legal processes in order to defend the rights granted under their existing petroleum licences.”

It will be interesting to see if the UK government and the country’s politicians will show leadership over the issue. I have my doubts. No wonder China is taking the global lead in wind-powered energy generation.

It appears that Big Oil does not believe oil and wind can mix.

Personally the fewer risks for more oil spill catastrophes in our seas, the better. For, as we all saw in the Gulf of Mexico a few months ago, courtesy of BP and its subcontractors, oil and water definitely do not mix.

China Leads Wind Power Race

Wind Power Projected to Provide 20% of Energy Needs by 2030

A revealing article in Fast Company a couple of weeks ago references a new report from Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council with some surprising predictions:

  • up to 20% of global energy needs could be powered by wind within 20 years
  • China currently has the second largest installed base of wind power capacity and should take the top spot by the end of this year or early 2011
  • Even a conservative forecast sees 4.8% of energy needs coming from wind-powered generation inside the next 10 years, which is roughly equal to Europe’s total energy consumption today.

The article also states that China will benefit economically from wind-powered energy by being able to reduce its cost of production of the goods it makes for the world.

The marketing implications here are manifold. First, it shows that China will continue to be a low-cost producer of goods for decades to come, helpful not only to the Chinese economy but to global inflation figures as well.

Secondly, Australia’s exports to China of coal, gas and other natural resources are currently fueling China’s economic boom and Australia’s economic stability. If China were to scale back on its needs for these resources, the consequences for Australia’s economic growth, particularly in Western Australia, would be negative.

Of course, the biggest marketing implication is a simple question — if wind-powered energy generation makes sense in a low-labor cost market like China, then why doesn’t it make greater economic sense in developed countries like Australia and the USA?

Here’s an example where a tightly run government is able to make and implement smarter and critical policy decisions on issues that politicians in other countries (particularly Australia and the USA) continue to squabble about in search of nightly news sound bites.

How do we get our political leaders to actually show leadership on this issue?

BP: Brand Perfidious?

Perfidious — deliberately faithless, treacherous, deceitful. Of, relating to, or marked by perfidy. Synonyms: false, disloyal, unfaithful, traitorous, faithless.

Perfidious is the word that leaped to my mind when I read this opening paragraph in a post on the Fast Company web site:

“There’s no question that BP has lied extensively over the past few months about the growing Gulf oil disaster. The company has bullied journalists, fudged numbers, and even deployed fake journalists to the Gulf to write about how everything is fine. Now BP may be literally trying to cover up oiled beaches by dumping sand on top of them.”

Over the weekend, the Financial Times (FT) and CNN were reporting that BP is bracing for a shake-up at the top, with both the Chairman and the CEO expected to be replaced within weeks.

However, unbelievably, the CNN story reports that the Chairman is being “singled out for criticism by shareholders for his perceived lack of decisive leadership during the crisis and his failure to support Tony Hayward, the embattled chief executive.

I guess these shareholders have their heads stuck in the same sand that BP apparently is using to cover up the oil-stained beaches in Louisiana.

Mr. Hayward’s performance before the U.S. Congress, in which he tried to handball blame for this disaster to BP’s subcontractors, did nothing to enhance trust in the BP brand or its leadership. Neither did early reports that soon after this disaster BP was offering US$5000 payments to residents affected by the oil spill if they waived their rights to sue for any damages.

The high-powered institutional investors in the UK that own the majority of the BP shares apparently do not have a clue about Corporate Image Management and the impact of the corporate image on share prices.

Both these investors and the BP Board need to understand this finding from the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report Reputation Assurance: The Value of a Good Name:

A single-minded focus that seeks only to satisfy shareholders may ultimately lead to crises and erosion of shareholder value.

Looks like an updated definition of the word perfidious might need to include “can lead to crises and erosion of shareholder value.”

Green Collar Economy to Feature at Singapore’s National Sustainability Conference

The Green Collar Economy and Environmental Up-Skilling are the two themes for the inaugural Singapore National Sustainability Conference on July 29-30.

The two-day conference is jointly organized by the Office of Environmental Sustainability at the National University of Singapore and the Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney.

All registered delegates will receive a complimentary copy of Ken Hickson’s iconic book The ABC of Carbon.  Hickson is one of the keynote speakers at the conference and has become a leading consultant on climate change and sustainability in the workplace.

Details on the program and registration are found on the National Sustainability Conference web site.

Is Shell Trying to Fill the “Beyond Petroleum” Void?

Deja Vu?

Into the “Beyond Petroleum” branding void steps Shell Oil.

This multi-national major oil industry player now has an aggressive new ad campaign, in which Shell is claiming to “unlock” a future world powered by new and numerous energy sources and cleaner fossil fuels.

Now where have we heard that one before?

The campaign, which launched just about a month ago, includes television commercials, print ads, online advertising, outdoor executions and two web sites — and

In the campaign, Shell informs us that the wolrd will soon be on the road to sustainable mobility and that the good guys and gals at Shell are “ready to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future.”

Not one to kick a fellow petroleum dog when it’s down, Shell’s spokesperson told Advertising Age that the campaign had been in the pipeline for almost a year and that the company felt releasing it now was “the right thing to do.”

BP’s Brand Hyprocrisy

The Beyond Petroleum positioning of BP may have been little more than hundreds of millions of dollars spent in greenwashing.

According to The Power Grid column in yesterday’s New York magazine, BP’s investment in hydrogen, wind, solar, and biofuels amounts to just 6 percent of its overall capital expenditures.

While this is certainly a significant amount in terms of dollars (or pounds) spent, it pales in comparison to what BP spends annually on oil exploration and production.

And this does not include, writes John Heilemann, “the tens of millions of dollars that BP has spent on lobbying against safety regulations, even as it’s compiled the most abysmal safety record of any major oil company.”

One key point in the article: safety violations by BP over the past five years totaled 760, as compared to only one for Exxon Mobil.

As we wrote yesterday, media monitoring firm General sentiment calculates that BP has lost $1 billion in brand value since the Gulf Oil spill.

It’s not the fact that BP had an accident that makes this brand suspect; it’s the manner in which they have tried to pass off blame and responsibility that bothers most.

Add to the above the 700,000 “friends” who have signed on to one of the three Boycott BP pages on Facebook, and you have a brand that is approaching free fall.

Sadly, the BP Board doesn’t seem to get this yet. By the time they do, it will be too late. (Another reason why Marketing needs to be brought into Corporate Boardrooms.)

The tombstone for the BP brand is being readied, and the graveyard of Enron, WorldCom, HIH Insurance, and myriad others awaits.

National Green Brands Forum

The third annual National Green Brands Forum, produced by 3 Pillars Network, will be held in Melbourne on 17 June.

Over 80 small business and corporate executives are expected to attend and hear speakers from Unilever, Origin Energy, Australian Paper, Cadbury, SENSIS, Orange Power and other organisations discuss creating innovation, value, and authenticity through marketing sustainable brands.

“There’s a very real concern across Australia about doing the right thing, communicating it in the right manner, and conveying it in a credible way,” conference produce Cheryl Samarasinghe told me yesterday in a phone conversation. Thus, the conference program has been designed around sharing of world-leading marketing strategies, the latest directions from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and an introduction to Australia’s National Carbon Offset Standard.

For new players, businesses and marketers entering the green marketing space, this looks like an excellent forum for learning new tools, best practices, and how to avoid having one’s marketing efforts come across as mere greenwashing.

Program and registration details are available online, and there is also an event blog for those who want to preview some of the key issues that will undoubtedly be discussed and debated at this industry leading event.

Earth Day Turns 40 Next Year

Hard as it is to believe, next year will be the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, first celebrated in the USA on April 22, 1970.

That event, conceptualized as a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment, drew over 20 million participants at thousands of schools and local communities.

Today, while environmental concerns are a global phenomena with widespread grassroots support, a universal respect for our planet’s fragile environment and a deep-seated sense of sustainability are not yet what anyone could call natural human traits or tendencies.

However, there can be little doubt that the momentum for sustainable business practices and individual actions is escalating. Here are some statistics and data that I have come across recently worth sharing with you:

  • there are 63 millions consumers in the USA eating organics, driving hybrids, and ordering fair-trade coffees. This represents 30% of the American market, a group which has proven willing to spend a good premium (usually over 20%) on clean, green products over non-sustainable alternatives.
  • Baby Boomers and Millennials are twice as likely to associate their own personal values with companies and brands (that’s good for Green Marketing initiatives).
  • Perceptions of environmental, ethical, and social stewardship are the fastest growing contributors to conssumer brand values (Z+ Partners).
  • The market for “all natural” cleaning products is over $100 million per annum and is escalating rapidly (
  • Sales of organic and all natural products have increased 18% to 25% per year for five consecutive years.

No wonder marketers see Green as the “New Black” for today’s shoppers!


Is Green the “New Black” for Women Shoppers?

As stated in the previous blog post, Green Marketing is no passing fad. In fact, to some observers, including me, Environmental Marketing looks like the New Black for women shoppers.

According to a recent study by the marketing consulting firm Frank About Women, one-quarter of all products in a woman’s shopping cart are environmentally friendly. (Note: this is data from the USA, unfortunately our shopping carts here in Australia have no current way of achieving such lofty green levels.)

The study also shows, according to an article in Ad Week, that “women are less likely than men to scoff at ecological concerns.” Most importantly, “if they feel they are getting a comparable product with green benefits, 69% are game to buy it.”

Another study, being released this week at the Good and Green Marketing Conference, will reportedly show that 80% of adult women in the USA believe very strongly that individuals can affect the environment, but that almost 60% believe that they are personally not doing enough to protect it.

It’s no wonder why Procter & Gamble has announced it will embark on a multi-brand initiative in the USA to educate and encourage consumers (read: women) to “make sustainable choices.” Called Future Friendly, this new platform from P&G includes a line of “green” Pampers disposable diapers and a pledge to provide 4 billion liters of clean drinking water in the developing world.

Modeled on previously successful initiatives in Canada and the UK, P&G is attempting to differentiate itself by claiming their existing products use less waste, energy and packaging, rather than by creating new “green” brand extensions. P&G is targeting its loyal customer base, hoping these consumers will be more likely to remain with their trusted brands if these are shown to be sustainable products.

“We are targeting the mainstream consumer – rather than the ‘environmental’ consumer – who does not want to give up on the brands that they like, but wants to use them in a sustainable way,” explained Glenn Williams, a P&G official, in the Financial Times.

While P&G is a late entrant to the green household products market, the company is sending a clear message that corporations must adopt sustainable practices in order to stay competitive. Of course, P&G also has a bottom-line target for this program, which reportedly includes placing 30 million of the company’s sustainable products into U.S. households by the end of next year and achieving total sales of $50 billion in sustainable products by 2012.

Interestingly, this “future friendly” program from P&G was announced (at the Clinton Global Initiative) while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is voicing opposition to the climate change legislation before Congress. It appears that P&G, unlike the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, understands the need to align their business practices – and their brands – with the growing environmental concerns of consumers.

P&G also understands that Green Marketing is the New Black for women shoppers in America.

Green Marketing Messages Not Getting Through To Green Consumers

A new survey from Grail Research reveals that 85% of consumers are either unaware of, or cannot recall, the green messages and green programs from companies considered to be at the forefront of sustainability initiatives.

Importantly, the research study also showed that consumers rely on product labels (63%) and word of mouth (45%) as their primary sources of information about green companies and their products. Advertising (38%) and corporate web sites (18%) are well behind as sources of information regarding green credentials.

Released in late September,  The Green Revolution report is based on a nationwide survey of U.S. consumers.

Key findings include:

· 84% of consumers currently purchase at least some green products.

· Price is the main reason cited (69%) by non-green consumers for not purchasing green products.

· Green consumption has penetratged all demographic segments, but the majority of green consumers are married women with no children under 18 in the home (57%).

· The vast majority (93%) of consumers feel that a company’s “greenness” is at least somewhat important to their purchase decision.

Most importantly, consumners expect green products to be on par or superior to their non-green counterparts with regards to safety (72%), healthiness (70%), quality (66%) and price (65%).

Significantly for marketers, across all product categories almost all consumers who buy green expect to remain green. Plus, those who don’t buy certain categories of green products intend to do so in the future.

It certainly looks like green is the “new black.” This is no passing fad.

What do you think? Add your comments below.

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