- Category: Press Releases
23 Dec 2010
- Published on Thursday, 23 December 2010 20:12
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By Rowena F. Caronan and Karl Go
The real progress in green marketing is to get people involved in sustainable business processes and goals while impacting genuine changes.
This is how renowned green marketer Park Howell described the path to success in the field of sustainability, identifying three criteria that entrepreneurs must look into. The American Advertising Federation named Howell the “Advertisement Person of the Year” in 2010.
As the president of Park&Co advertising agency, Howell illustrates how green marketing is done by first building up awareness and identifying behaviors and practices of concerned people.
“We started with initial work in water conservation with the Water- Use it Wisely campaign. It started in a small town in 1999 and now its all over the world,” said Park Howell in a talk with Ecoseed
“We saw a need for a business model, there were a lot of towns and cities with utility companies who needed to have these campaigns but didn’t have the resources to run their own conservation outreach programs,” explained Mr. Howell.
“We created a campaign that could be co-branded with other organizations not only in North America but all over the world. People could use these materials in everything from TV, advertising, radio, print ads, educational materials and even interactive web games. That really got us launched into the sustainable world. And from our work in that campaign it’s led to many other pursuits like air quality, helping corporations talk about their environmental mission and many others.
“It started with water conservation and now its grown to renewable energy and all aspects of sustainability,” added Mr. Howell.
According to Howell, the secret in starting a shift to sustainable business practices is to design a goal that is approachable, believable, and doable.
“Is it realistic? Can people really believe you can do that? Is it doable for them to get involved in their own place in your mission?” said Mr. Howell, citing these questions as a guide for budding green entrepreneurs.
Mr. Howell added that once the goal is publicly announced, it must be followed through with activities that are feasible for both employees and customers to participate in their own ways.
“Do not mandate a particular sustainability activity, but simply share fun educational ways that people can make small differences in their lives,” he argued.
He shared that there are several paths to green recognized by most people: the environmental advocacy path, which includes environmental initiatives and awareness campaigns, and the business in green path, which involves trying to integrate sustainability and corporate responsibility into operations. Which approach is more effective?
“Both would be effective depending on when and how you are talking to the individual and how you are asking them to engage,” shared Mr. Howell.
“The advocacy part works more for people in their personal lives. Water conservation, recycling, reuse, watching one’s water and electricity use, it becomes a personal issue.
“Advocacy doesn’t hit home as much in the office. When you’re at a workplace, operational efficiency, saving money works better when you talk to people where they work.
“It’s how you’re talking to the people, what kind of stories you are telling them and the environment they find themselves in. Is it a personal environment at home with family and friends or a professional environment at the workplace with colleagues? You approach those differently,” explained Mr. Howell.
An example of a corporate sustainability campaign is Coca Cola’s EcoDriving campaign, which Park & Co was a part of. The campaign highlighted how savings could be attained through changes in habits and behaviors of truck drivers delivering Coca Cola’s products.
“Micro eco-actions,” explained Mr. Howell. “It’s the small things you do that build up to a critical mass of sustainability.”
“The little things truck drivers can do such as gentle braking, proper air in the tires, and route selection, can save the company considerable amount of money,” he added. “Efficiency increased by 25 percent, not just the amount of fuel [used] every year when tires are changed, but also significant financial and sustainable impact.”
So what is the critical element when building a green campaign?
“It’s how you tell your story, and where you’re talking with them,” shared Mr. Howell. “There are a lot of strategies to use depending on your resources and where you are talking with people. That’s the critical element. Find out their mindset or worldview at the time of engagement, and that’s how you need to talk to them.
“For instance, if we would work for a large retailer, we would have a campaign that would focus on say, efficiency of product use. Once people get in the stores, we would have workshops where they would have opportunities to interact with the manufacturers of the individual products.
“We’d get them talking about the most efficient manner to use the products, which would lead to increased sales of the product if the customers are happy about it.”
Mr. Howell believes that the private sector can make real impact on the conservation of environment through a concrete shift to sustainable practices.
“We have found in sustainability that people are not so much concerned or motivated by saving the planet as they are about saving money, saving time, and [being] convenient,” he said. “Companies have to be sustainable not only logically but culturally and certainly financially.”
Any parting advice?
“I’m not a radical environmentalist, I’m a middle of the road environmentalist. I look to try to persuade the masses. The middle of the road crowd, there are many little things you can do that make a big difference if you do them over time. You’re not talking about complete lifestyle changes, you’re talking about little things that lead to large impacts for yourself, your company, and the environment.”