Green: Print

On the fourth Wednesday of the month, Marketing: Green focuses on green media strategies within specific traditional media. (October: outdoor; November: print; December: TV). Creative, strategic, operational and other media pros are invited to brainstorm and collaborate, with the goal of indelibly cementing "green" into media of all types: Ideas ranging from "so-crazy-it-just-might-work" to "as long as no one gets hurt." Due to an impending second child, this dad-to-be postponed November's "Green: Print" by one week! Thanks to all readers for your patience, support and involvement.

The original intention of this column was to discuss green creative strategy within traditional advertising media. Having interviewed professionals in the field, the "greenness" of the media themselves emerged as a recurring theme. Print advertising's green credibility is suspect. Common sense says that ink spread across a dead tree, hauled via plane and truck to an individual doorstep is not the most energy-efficient way of disseminating information.

The pulp and paper industry as a whole is the fourth-largest contributor of toxic releases to air, according to the U.S. EPA Toxic Release Inventory Database. Even if it's not the greatest contributor to air pollution, (e.g., recent studies are pointing to the IT industry's carbon footprint as equal to the airline industry's) there is still room for much improvement.

Green: Advertisers

Since the print business is highly dependent on ad revenues (with some publications moving to a 100% ad-driven model), the stakeholders who hold much of the power are the advertisers. The recent advertising recession made this reality brutally clear to magazines and newspapers. There is no better time than the present to begin leveraging ad budget buying power to enforce a sustainable agenda -- something we all presumably want anyways.

Is it realistic though to expect advertisers to develop green standards in terms of their media buy-ins?

According to Frank Locatore, director of the Better Paper Project, there are an increasingly diverse number of publications in the magazine industry that live by the stringent green standards set out by Green America.

"Adoption of cleaner standards has reached beyond just the 'usual suspects' like Outside and Explore Magazine, and hit the mainstream magazines like Motorcycle Classics, Shape Magazine, and Fast Company," according to Locatore.

This is great news for green marketers and media buyers, because a broader choice of greener publications also means increased competitive pressure for non-green publications.

Green: Publishers

Greening is not a simple task for publishers however. Many factors have to be taken into account other than just paper, in order to forge genuinely green infrastructure.

"A publisher must consider numerous factors to arrive at a comprehensive green strategy. Ink and paper's derivation, components, miles traveled from source, and biodegradability; post-read recycling through municipal partnerships; use of staples and extraneous materials (for bundling, etc.)," says Dara Mottahed, sales manager of Metro News Ottawa, the world's largest international newspaper.

Green: We

The book industry is leading the charge in terms of green industry standardization. A main goal of the Book Industry Environmental Council (BIEC) is to establish a label to identify publishers that are leading the way in reducing environmental impacts.

A coalition of advertisers, publishers and environmental activists could follow the BIEC's lead in creating a green advertising standards act, complete with "20% by 2020" greenhouse reduction goals, implementation strategies for publishers, and possibly even blacklists for non-participants. Research indicates that such efforts would not be an exercise in futility, as we get closer to a tipping point in terms of major industry partnerships and investments in greener infrastructure.

I invite readers, particularly from the print world, to comment regarding challenges and initiatives to which they may belong. Also, it is hoped this can be a forum for leaders to network with the goal of creating and enforcing greener standards within print.

December's Green: TV will explore similar challenges within the world's most pervasive advertising medium.

4 comments about "Green: Print ".
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  1. Edwin Stepp from Vision Media Productions, December 2, 2009 at 1 p.m.

    Thanks for the article. Are there some case studies of publications that have gone through the process of going "green?" Where can we get information on what is being recommended to magazines to adopt the highest standards of "green" printing, including impact on the cost?

  2. Chris Corbett from KMA Direct Communications, December 2, 2009 at 1:01 p.m.

    "blacklists for non-participants"?

    Wow. I profoundly disagree with the content and tone of this article.

    First, let me say that I'm all in favor of voluntary and even appropriate regulatory conservationism and health-realted eco-standards.

    That said, this article goes beyond appropriate measures and indulges in needless and harmful zealotry.

    It is premised on the empirically dissolving assumption that anthropogenic global warming is a fact. Yet recent findings and the email scandal have shown that the science points the other direction. Global warmism is probably hysteria at best, a hoax at worst.

    So based on that false premise, the writer now proposes that we "blacklist" environmental enemies, and throw a straight-jacket on an industry that is dedicated to the free flow of ideas.

    It's a bad idea and perpetuates a dangerous falsehood.

    I would recommend disregarding this advice. Be a good conservation-minded corporate citizen, but reject heavy-handed zealotry such as presented in this article.

  3. Brad Stewart from Molecule Inc., December 2, 2009 at 2:40 p.m.

    I'm sorry Chris, everything we do is anthropogenic.

    Your comments are contradictory. If we blacklist companies and products as consumers, I see no difference in blacklisting them as business leaders. And then bragging about it. That is, if it helps our bottom line, and cleans up the air we breathe at the same time.

    I didn't mention anything about global warming, Chris. You don't have to believe in global catastrophe to want cleaner air.

    I'm also not suggesting that we straight-jacket any industry. Where did you get such an idea? I'm proposing quite the opposite.

    I'm sorry Chris, but unfortunately the only zealotry I see is with your comments. Baseless, inflammatory, insensitive, prejudicial, hasty and banal. I think you should apologize.

  4. Brad Stewart from Molecule Inc., December 2, 2009 at 2:46 p.m.

    Hi Edwin is the best resource I've been able to find. Frank Locatore, who I mentioned in the article is an excellent resource. They focus on the magazine industry, but have deep insights into other forms of publication as well.

    The is the site for the BIEC.

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