« Bush's Corporate Social Responsibility Greenwash | Main | Earth to Kids: Create Your Future »

September 18, 2005


Rod Edwards

Joel - great examination of consumerism in action, and the gap between perception and action. Your article reminded me of this article on WorldChanging, which offers a bit of a counterpoint:


Jamais makes the point that in choosing to enter the green marketing fray, companies are exposing themselves to a level of brand risk, should they ever fail to meet the expectations that the set with their green positioning - hence, activities like Levi's secret use of organic cotton. Specifically, such a risk would complicate your first takeaway - can message consistency and brand-risk mitigation co-exist? Or does a major firm have to distance itself to some degree from its green brands, as - for example - Nike does with its sub-brand "Considered?"

Anyway, let's hope that all of this esoteric brand consideration will be moot in due course as green shifts mainstream.

Thanks for a good read.


Seems as tho the "halo" is growing for Toyota, as it announced a whole green fleet is in the foffing. Yet, Detroit muddles along, producing bigger cars with bigger engines. As the old folk song asks, "When will they ever learn?"


IMHO, the points of greatest leverage to change are as follows (derived from Sterling's Veridian Manifesto):
- Concerted marketing effort to make green appealing in the sense of enviable, not the province of self-abnegating granola baking non shavers. Enlist sexy personalities to be "greener than thou" and harness manifest destiny, the true basis of consumerism and the cult of personality unique to America.
- Continue the green design revolution making products that propagate sustainability, recycling, etc but don't look like they are targeted for vegan hobbit pot growers. Make it so Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie wish they could be nearly that desireable, like having it would adorn them while showing off how so superiorly clean and green their aesthetic. Clean and green will be benchmark values. Industry motivated by their bottom line will adopt these production values for market share, not to comply with unenforced EPA regs.
-We have our zeitgeist. I say harness the heady cocktail of envy, consumerism. and cult of personality, and watch "green" move from the province of the caring, self sacrificing, and responsible, to the cultural elite and subsequently their worshipful adulating masses.

Jerry Stifelman


I agree with your insights. The three cases you sighted were very helpful in making your case.

In addition to the practical consumer concerns that these companies address, I have another one to add — FUN.

I lead a company called The Change, a strategic consultancy and design firm focused on brands that make the world better. For our first client, Larry's Beans, a Fair Trade coffee roaster, we took the notion of Fair Trade coffee and made it fun and inclusive and hip. Less focused on conscience and more like a party you want to be invited to. Sales have now gone up over 250 % since we added this exhuberant spirit to the brand (a slide show detailing the strategy is available at

Thanks for getting to the heart of the matter (again).

The comments to this entry are closed.