Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Greenery is now OgilvyEarth

In case you've wondered why we've abandoned what was a fairly robust blog, well, we haven't. The Greenery has changed its name to OgilvyEarth, after the sustainability practice area expanded globally to include some 20 geographies across the Ogilvy Network.

Progress means change, and in this case a new website and blog along with a new name and set of capabilities.

So go here: www.OgilvyEarth.com to see posts from all around the globe on sustainability and marketing. I've posted the inaugural blog entry below, in case your excitement is too great to wait for the link to load....

“When the winds of change blow, there are those who build walls, and those who build windmills.” –Ancient proverb

Today marks the official launch of OgilvyEarth, the Ogilvy Group’s global sustainability practice area. Everything is changing, but nothing is changing.

What we do today, is to connect together the dozens of existing sustainability groups under a single banner, a single point-of-view and a shared approach. So nothing has changed: we continue to help the worlds greatest companies capture the opportunity in the new sustainable economy. Companies like BP, Tetra Pak, Coca-Cola, Unilever, DuPont, IBM and Qantas. And everything has changed: never before has an agency network connected people from all different companies and disciplines together, under a shared mission like this. The result? People who are passionate about moving the world (and the companies that serve it) forward. People with the communications skills to start a movement and make it actually happen.

But OgilvyEarth is just another sign that times have changed, forever. In the shadow of a global economic crisis, has emerged a new dawn: the Age of Sustainability. It’s an Age where people do more, with less. Where resource availability and shared prosperity are not in conflict. Where optimism meets pragmatism for all.

You can read our white paper to understand our point of view and begin to ponder the implications of the new Age of Sustainability for your company, for yourself. This blog will be a “wikipaper” of sorts, where ideas are refined, the sustainability movement defined and the conventions are challenged. This will not be the place to go for polar bear updates or tips on how better to compost your mung beans. This is the place where the very fundamentals of the new world order, the new Age of Sustainability will unfold. Where brands that lead will be celebrated and those who don’t will be gently prodded.

Friday, April 3, 2009

There’s No Wrong Way to Meet a Royal

…When you’re an Obama, that is.

Now, we flatter ourselves that our interest would not ordinarily align with that of the prying UK Daily Mail, but this once, we’ll admit that it does. Michelle Obama did something unthinkable at the G-20 Summit this week: she side-hugged the Queen of England. It was a flagrant violation of long-standing royal protocol, but it was also decidedly well-received – the Obama Effect in a nutshell.

Before the Age of Obama, the occasional, ineffectual chautauquas of the G-20 leaders were the world’s chance to hit the snooze button. It was just a bunch of gray-haired men (and Angela Merkel) quibbling over their rigid agendas and, oh yeah, the future of the world – and nothing much happened. No public engagement. No faith in leadership. No outcomes necessary.

This time, however, things were palpably different. Our pride was invested in our leader’s success, so we paid attention. And Obama knew our eyes were on him, so he made sure he shined. Brokering deals, delivering glittering orations, advancing world dreams and looking downright dapper was all in a good day’s work.

But lest heads should swell, it is our duty, as front row marchers in the sustainability movement, to point out that much more might have been said about the role renewable resources must play in our reformed economy. Although “sustainability” was certainly an undertone in conversations, specifics – as ever – were lacking. You won’t find us crying in our beer, though. A truly sustainable world economy has certain predicates, like open communication, resource-sharing,and global goodwill, and an important few of them were checked off yesterday.

We’ll leave it to the cynics to spin all the hope out of this summit. Let them say nothing changed. Or capitalism is dead. Or one trillion dollars isn’t enough. We say the London Summit was one giant leap for mankind. We leapt over multipolar jockeying and zero-sum games straight into the realm of “we’re all in this together” and “anything’s possible.” It’s almost better than the moon.

Goofy “class photos” and the President’s thumbs ups aside, nothing symbolized this progress better than the First Lady’s arm around the Queen. She captured the world with a gesture that at once represented the progressive expansion of possibility, a compassionate nod to equality, and change we can believe in.

It was just the right touch.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour

So Saturday evening is Earth Hour. At 8:30 PM, nearly a billion people from around the globe are expected to switch off their lights for one hour. This simple act will be counted as a "vote" for the earth and a message of support for the upcoming COP15 summit in Copenhagen.


If you haven't yet joined the movement, there is still time. Our client, WWF, is the organization behind Earth Hour. Our Tokyo Executive Group Creative Director Mark Collis is the mastermind behind the campaign.

And if you think turning off a light switch is just a meaningless symbolic gesture, remember that most worthy movements start this way. But Earth Hour is not about protesting, it is about affirming the power of the individual: one person's actions do have the ability to impact many.

As I like to quote Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

So flip the switch and take a look out the window to see the collective impact of the individual. Or else, do whatever comes naturally when the lights are off....

Monday, March 16, 2009

We May Not All Be Irish

.. But (with a little bit of luck) we can all be green.

In between the usual St. Patty's fair, let's all wear a sprig o' green in honor of a different cause: the greening of the eccnomy. Bottoms up!
Now I've got way too much blarney in me to serioslu advocate turning this beloved holiday (aka gnarly excuse to drink mid-week) into something it’s not: Earth Day 2.0. But I’ve also got enough consideration for roots of a different sort to find the happy color coincidence mightily compelling.

In this pivotal year bookended by Obama and the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, perhaps the annual day o’ green deserves a new progressive spin. By all means, preserve your St. Patty’s Day traditions in all their pub-crawling glory; I only ask that you recycle those solo cups, take public transportation to the parade, buy your cabbage and potatoes from a local source, and tomorrow, try living green instead of just wearing it. (It’s almost as good as being Irish.)

And while you and your mates are nursing your pint, you might give this blessing a try:

May the road to a green economy rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at the back of your turbines,

May the sun shine warm – but not too warm – upon your face

And may you be asleep an hour

Before melted glaciers sink your bed

Thursday, March 5, 2009

No Country for Clean Coal

Here's a good one to share: A new "PSA" directed by acclaimed filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (of Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou and No Country for Old Men fame). It's the latest in a series of clever :30 commercials produced by ThisIsReality.org to debunk the myth of clean coal technology. It was produced in partnership with Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection.

Now, part of the Obama Administration's investment in green energy includes "clean coal." If you wondered what Al says about it, look no further than Current TV:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Show Us What You’re Made Of

Mother told us, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but today we respectfully promote an exception: in the world of consumer goods, it’s all about the packaging.
Manufacturers have generally chosen between two opposite but equally significant packaging design directions: extravagance and economy. We’ve seen some packages take on truly disproportionate sizes (ala iPods) and others use truly questionable materials (ala Styrofoam).

But with the rise of the cradle-to-cradle paradigm, the consumer is beginning to pay heed to the fact that while a manufacturer may be responsible for the birth of a package, he will be forced to choose its afterlife. It’s a heavy epiphany.

We hope it’s about to get lighter.

Enter “sustainable packaging.” Once the countercultural demand of Greenies and Granolas, it looks like it’s finally attracting the mainstream.

According to a Hartman Group report (Sustainability Outlook: The Rise of Consumer Responsibility), seventy-five percent of consumers say that being able to recycle packaging at easily-accessible curbside facilities is “important” or “very important.” Seventy-one percent say so of biodegradability. And reduced package size and weight, package composition, and reusability are essentials for 60 percent or more.

The Hartman Study also found that a whopping 82 percent of consumers believe the eco-claims they see on packages. And with the destiny of packaging resting in their hands, they’re paying wrapped attention.

We are all looking for ways to differentiate our brands and encourage purchase, moving towards more sustainable packaging is clearly one of the ways to do this.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Trop Debate: Really?

Recently we posted on Tropicana's new packaging and sustainability messaging. Tropicana, and its parent company Pepsico, have finally started looking at the carbon impact of its supply chain in earnest; as well as launched a new rainforest protection program.

Our post (as always) was intended to highlight a movement by a major brand and spark some debate. And there indeed was debate about the new Tropicana. But not about the relative merit of a sustainability program, or the value of transparency, but about the look of the new carton.

If you haven't followed the story, here's an article from the New York Times (yes, really!). In short, outraged consumers flooded the social media sites, fueled the press and forced Tropicana to return to the old carton. As a marketer, I'm reminded that brands aren't really owned by companies anymore: they belong to the consumer. As a Sustainability marketer, I'm reminded how emotional (and uneasy) people are about change, and how we more often look backward than forward.

So now I have a new gold standard to compare our sustainability communications efforts: a carton of juice. If people care as much about what's in the carton (or how the carton got to the store in the first place) as what's printed on the outside, we all win.

Rage on!