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The Ugly Mug World Little Greenwashing Guide

The Ugly Mug World Little Greenwashing Guide

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Published by Edward flynn
A little helpful guide to green marketing, its problems, its demographics, and some possible solutions as well as a list of helpful URLs for further research
A little helpful guide to green marketing, its problems, its demographics, and some possible solutions as well as a list of helpful URLs for further research

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Published by: Edward flynn on May 25, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/25/2010

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 T H E  u g l y  m u g  W O R l D 
 l i t t l e  g r e e n w a s h  g u i d e
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Being fairly recent transplants to the great city of Portland, our cynical East Coastears prick up whenever we hear someone mention the words “
GREEN”
and “
SUSTAINABLE”.
 Those words get bandied about on a regular basis here in Portland, where it seemseveryone is constantly in battle for the prize of über-environmentalist.Don’t get us wrong, all this ecological fervor is a welcome relief to the blasépessimism and ignorance of other cities back east. But it did inspired us to wonderjust how much Portlanders really knew about “GREEN” and “SUSTAINABLE” and how theyfelt about companies who use these terms in their marketing.This motivated us to grab our cameras one weekend and head to the streets to lm alittle ad hoc opinion survey. What we found out was very illuminating—but it also conrmed our suspicions.Of the 30+ people we talked to: Some applied denitions to these words that were asfuzzy as a lumberjack’s beard, but most had a grasp on the concepts that were behindthe words and professed to embrace them whenever possible.
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But when they were askedif they thought the terms were being overused, 3/4 of the people agreed. Most addedthat they tended to distrust companies who do use these words in their marketing. When asked where this distrust comes from, most respondents said it was attributedto overuse by disreputable companies who co-opted the terms to promote products with little-to-no environmental or social responsibility. This greenwashing poisonsthe marketing for companies who truly are responsible and ecologically minded. Theinterviewees also admitted that because of this, the words “GREEN” and “SUSTAINABLE”no longer had the integrity they once had and are now basically meaningless in thecontext of a marketing lexicon.The conclusions we found with our “Man on the Street” interviews lend us to furtherresearch. We’re sure you’re aware of some of the issues that were brought up such asthe power of greenwashing and its extent; which goes hand in hand with the overuseof the color green as camouage for harmful products.Please allow us to submit this handy guide in which we list some of Green Marketing’sproblems as well as possible solutions around them for your consideration. Plus, we’dlike to thank AIGA Portland for the chance to present our little movie and the resultsof this research to you.
 
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JIMBO NEEDS AN EDUCATION
As a designer, marketer, or advertiser, we’re sure you know how hard itis to come up with an effective promotional campaign or brand identity.It’s even harder when your client, who makes a great environmentallyfriendly product or service, wants to use words or images in themessaging that has negative connotations they don’t even realize.Let’s say your client, who we’ll call “Jimbo,” just walked into yourofce with a big idea for a campaign. Jimbo is holding a crayon drawingof owers, trees, and his product. The drawing was made by his three yearold daughter and Jimbo is hellbent on using it with a headline that states
“Jimbo’s Green Gizmo’s, the best eco-friendly sustainable Gizmo’s Going!”
So what do you do?
First, patiently sit Jimbo down and, in a calm voice educate him on thecurrent state of green marketing. Tell them that he needs to steer clearof communications that utilize buzz words which have been co-opted anddestroyed by greenwashing.
 Make a client aware that most consumers react either negativelyor are unresponsive to the words: GREEN, SUSTAINABLE, or wordsthat begin with ECO- and EARTH-.Consumers are also becoming inured to images of trees, owers,and child-like drawings when used in the context of brandcommunications
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After you tell this to your client, Jimbo will either: A) Be offended byyour audacity at suggesting his daughter’s work isn’t on par with a MiltGlaser drawing and then he’ll charge out of your ofce, or B) Jimbo willfeel a bit weak in the knees from seeing his grand ideas of eco-championgo up in smoke, and then he’ll come to his senses.But not to worry, take Jimbo for a nice cup of java. Then put his fearsto rest by telling him it’s OK, you have some solutions that will helphis company retain its environmental branding. Plus if he listens closelyhe could possibly also increase his customer base and loyalty in otherareas that he hasn’t even thought of.
 
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YOU’RE NOT OUT-GREENING ANYONE
 
Unfortunately the success of greenwashinghas really impacted the ability for atruly good and healthy product to standout from its competitors.Instead of playing the never ending gameof trying to out green competitors (someof which will have much deeper pocketsthan your client) your client might moreeffectively distinguish themselves byconcentrating on the other aspects ofthe product; price, unique brand DNA,quality, convenience, availability, smelland texture (when applicable.)In terms of price, most consumers, whileprofessing to be concerned about theenvironmental properties of a product,still use price as the major decidingfactor in a purchase. The ability to pusha consumer into a higher priced purchaseis dependent on the brand’s identity tomake quality its leading attribute. When we mention unique brand DNA we aretalking about what it is that makes acompany different. What is their story?How did they start and why? Is theirproduct made in a different way? In thesestories lay the possible foundationsfor a great marketing campaign that canconvey not only unique identity but alsohonesty to the consumer.Quality is judged on many features,including performance, look, feel, t,comfort, and durability. To motivate theconsumer to value Quality is an essential
GREEN:
 
The hue of that portion of the vis-ible spectrum lying between yellowand blue, evoked in the human ob-server by radiant energy with wave-lengths of approximately 490 to 570nanometers; any of a group of colorsthat may vary in lightness and satu-ration and whose hue is that of theemerald or somewhat less yellow thanthat of growing grass; one of theadditive or light primaries; one ofthe psychological primary hues.2. Something green in color.3. greens Green growth or foliage,especially:a : The branches and leaves ofplants used for decoration.b : Leafy plants or plant partseaten as vegetables.4. A grassy lawn or plot, espe-cially:a : A grassy area located usuallyat the center of a city or town andset aside for common use; a common.b : Sports A putting green.5. Slang Money.6. Green A supporter of a social andpolitical movement that espousesglobal environmental protection,bioregionalism, social responsibil-ity, and nonviolence.
SUS·TAIN·ABLE:
 
1. capable of being sustained2 a : of, relating to, or being amethod of harvesting or using aresource so that the resource isnot depleted or permanently damaged<sustainable techniques> <sustain-able agriculture> b : of or relatingto a lifestyle involving the use ofsustainable methods <sustainablesociety>

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