Frito-Lay's SunChips was hardly alone in making a "green" announcement on Earth Day -- in fact, the marketing hills were alive with the sound of "greener than thou" releases.
But for SunChips, the announcement that it has teamed with National Geographic for a "Green Effect" contest awarding $20,000 to each of the five most outstanding ideas for creating green change in communities was one more in a continuing series of initiatives driving its green marketing strategy.
Just days ago, SunChips announced that it has developed the first 100% compostable chip bag, to be fully rolled out by Earth Day 2010 -- and that one-third of the materials in current bags are already renewable.
All of these are the latest in actual "walking the walk" eco-moves by SunChips and Frito-Lay that give the brand a legitimate reason for being in the sustainability limelight, in the opinion of Martin Bishop, director of brand strategy in the San Francisco office of Landor Associates.
SunChips -- whose name gives it a head start on an eco image -- has "gone way beyond a single day tie-in" by making a commitment to the environment "the core idea for its brand," Bishop observes in his blog, brandmix.blogspot.com. The brand's chips are all "relatively healthy," so there's no disconnect between the product's content and its environmental image, and they are being manufactured in a Frito-Lay plant in Arizona that runs on solar-generated, renewable fuels and recycled water, he points out.
In addition, in marketing terms, SunChips' tagline -- "Little Things Can Change The World. Healthier Planet, Healthier You" -- seems to point to an understanding of the need to help the consumer make a personal connection to the brand's green benefits.
To stand out amid the din of increasingly confusing green claims being made by all kinds of products, "you can't just flop a wind-energy or other green message on a label," says Margaret Kime, director of innovation with brand-building consultancy Fletcher Knight. "You need to make the green benefits relevant to the brand experience as a whole. And particularly with food and consumables, you need to convey that it's good for the consumer, as well as for the earth."
As consumers become more confused and jaded by the plethora of green claims, they will increasingly feel the need to research and sort out these claims, Kime notes. Connecting consumers directly to the brand by conveying "what's in it for me" takes them "down a different path," she says.