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Responsible Marketing

Two trends you need to wrap your head around now

By January 4, 2008November 5th, 20212 Comments

AdWeek released its Top 10 Trends of 2007 late last month.

Trends included the explosion of social networking and its impact on privacy, increased mobility, the growth of the BRIC nations, online gaming, and how open systems are prevailing over closed ones.

But two trends are of particular relevance to responsible marketing:

It’s time to get real.

Fake it ’til you make it? Not this year. As Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” continued to garner accolades and blogs like Consumerist and Gawker remained committed to calling bullshit on companies they deem hypocritical (like, well, Unilever, who markets Axe as the anti-Dove), many brands made a move for authenticity. On the Web that meant viral videos, word-of-mouth campaigns and heartfelt apologies from Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg when early iPhone adopters and Facebook friends complained their trust had been breached by big business. Beyond its rebate, Apple even gave some brand loyalists their 15 minutes in a series of user-gen TV spots. But with “real people” modeling agencies popping up like toadstools and “electability” driving the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, is real on its way to becoming the new fake?

Unless you lived under a rock the last year, you’ve probably seen the “Campaign for Real Beauty” ads. Here’s my favorite:

Green marketing pays…for now.

Call it corporate social responsibility or cold, hard capitalism, but marketing a brand or corporation around the environment stepped out of the fringes and squarely into the mainstream, seven years after British Petroleum repositioned itself as “beyond petroleum.” Yes, scoring points with environmentalists is important to retailers like Wal-Mart and oil companies like Chevron, but the bottom line is there’s money to be made in less bulky packaging and renewable energy exploration. Indeed, corporate social responsibility is an issue that “no chairman or CEO will duck”—as WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell told industry analysts this month—because “it’s a major area of potential revenue generation and profitability.” Hence, Toyota advertises its “zero emissions vision” and goal of “zero waste in all our plants,” ExxonMobil touts technology designed to improve the performance of batteries used in hybrid cars, and utility holding company Exelon Corp. says, “A low-carbon energy future is possible, and national climate change legislation is a critical step.” Even Al Gore has switched from being a presidential candidate to an environmental advocate, a Nobel laureate, an advisor at Google and a venture capitalist. And unlike oil companies whose new stance appears hypocritical or at least a stretch based on past actions (Exxon Valdez, anyone?), Gore’s transformation at least jibes with his days as a tree hugger. Will corporate America make good on its trendy promises? Time will tell.

There’s an interesting connection between the two trends, aren’t there?

Now that corporate America recognizes green is good for the bottom line, everyone is doing it. While there’s plenty of room left on the bandwagon, cynicism regarding green marketing is at an all-time high: 7 in 10 Americans believe green = marketing.

Marketers that aren’t real and fail to market themselves responsibly run the risk of turning their feel-good actions into bad publicity when they are outed for greenwashing.

And that’s not a trend anyone wants to be associated with.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Enjoyed the Dove Video. Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock – hadn’t seen it! Then again, maybe they ran it on Oxygen. I figure it had to take a video producer about a week to put that one together, morphing faces, shrinking, surgery, the works! Ha!

    Scott Andrews, CEO

  • Mary Kate Baker says:

    The Dove ad is fantastic. I had seen it before, and no not on Oxygen :), and really thought it hit home. The fashion industry has created a monster. It starts with girls craving small jean sizes and then from there morphed in to the diet industry to make those girls acheive “their perfect size.” This ad uses creativity to send a powerful message to all women.

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