Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clean Conscience

Is it just us or are the beautiful people of the Jolie Pitt clan annoyingly incapable of setting a foot wrong?

Today Brad Pitt and cult skincare brand Kiehl's (now owned by L'Oreal) announced a partnership to launch the world's first cradle-to-cradle-certified beauty product, Aloe Vera liquid body cleanser.

The product is noteworthy for being 100% biodegradable, containing no parabens, SLS or dyes and being packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled packaging. The collaboration is interesting because Pitt won't be featured in any ads or on pack but instead got hands-on working with architect William McDonough (author of Cradle to Cradle) to design the product and with Kiehls to create a charity to which 100% of the profits will go.

This 'silver bullet' school of sustainable innovation strategy - let's call it the Prius model - is fascinating. Done right, it allows a brand or company to explore the viability of, and optimize, a sustainable product before it invests in a wholesale reinvention of its portfolio. It also opens a dialogue with the consumer about sustainability ahead of being 100% perfect. The risk is that it becomes a one-off initiative used opportunistically to improve brand image, while the heartland products remain eco-offenders (SUVs in the Toyota portfolio spring to mind here).

Both Kiehl's and Pitt have sufficient credibility to inspire optimism that this is the first of many steps in the right direction.

But just in case, Brad, can you have a word?

No comments: