With more than 700 folks in attendance at last week’s Sustainable Brands Conference 2011 in Monterrey, Calif., the sessions were as full as I can remember. The energy level seems to be especially high among big brands to be part of this movement. But what, exactly, is the movement? My feeling is that every company represented would define it differently. Almost ever session confirmed that the word “sustainability” just doesn’t work with consumers, But then again, why should it when its definition is so broad that those of us involved in the marketing of consumer products goods can’t seem to agree on precisely what it is we’re talking about?
So what, then, does seem to be resonating with the buying public? In a word, it’s “gamification” –or to put it another way (and borrow a lyric from the song), “the games people play now.” The buzz around creating games to achieve behavioral change, rather than focusing on the already stale and stilted “sustainability” concept, was what really had the participants excited – so much so that the brands represented at the conference have allocated a budget to give the world’s best marketers a chance to refashion the message to reflect this new trend. And who knows? Perhaps next year, the event will be renamed the “Strategy Brands Conference” with a theme of turning saving the planet into fun and games.
This new approach , by the way, was reinforced in a presentation by OgilvyEarth, the Australia-based green communications firm, which featured a study showing that environmental messaging, in order to be effective with men and the so-called “middle greens” that represent two-thirds of the potential audience, must be “personal, plausible and positive” rather than focusing on “doom and gloom.”
All of which would seem to refute Joel Makower’s contention that “green marketing is dead,” which I’ll address from an entirely different perspective in my next blog.