Promotion & Communications

Companies who improve their environmental and social credentials are naturally often keen to capitalise on this by communicating with customers and other stakeholders to improve the perception of their products and company. This can be a risky strategy because sufficient companies have engaged in “green-washing” or “bandwagon-jumping” to have made consumers somewhat cynical about the motives and claims of companies that are addressing sustainability issues. This makes it important that the social and environmental claims made by companies are clear, accurate and substantiated. There is now increasingly strict legislation relating to the use of particular claims such as “natural”, and the use of particular colours or symbols in presenting and promoting products in a way that doesn’t mislead.

It is important for marketers to remember that everything communicates, and that corporate actions or inaction can communicate as much as deliberate campaigns. Marketing communications activities can consume a considerable amount of resource, and seeking to communicate a firm’s ecological credentials through a glossy and complex direct mail-shot may be counter-productive. It is important to ensure that the other aspects of the marketing mix, and other parts of the company, back up any sustainability orientated communication that a company embarks on. It is also important to avoid addressing sustainability issues by “bolting-on” campaigns that seem inappropriate or tokenistic. Cause related marketing campaigns for example can be highly effective, but only if the issues involved appear to “belong” to the company and if the commitment is genuine. UNEP/Global Compact/Utopies Report "Talk the Walk - Advancing Sustainable Lifestyles through Marketing & Communications"
The report provides an overview of the sustainability impacts of, and opportunities for, the advertising industry.
CEO Magazine article highlighting the importance of getting green marketing communications right.
Adbusters magazine highlights the work of an alternative global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators, and entrepreneurs.
An article entitled 'Strange Bedfellows: Advertising and the Green Consumer'.

Green Seal provides information on the purchase and production of environmentally responsible products and services.
The European Environmental Communication Network.
This article examines the history and status of environmental marketing claims, and the enforcement activities of the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") in this arena.
This site provides the US FTC’s details of guidelines for the use of environmental marketing claims.
Guide for the use of environmental marketing claims.
UNEP's Advertising and Communication Forum with information on previous meetings.

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