Back To The Future

2010 was an important year in green. A number of campaigns took the leap from attaching to change for promotion to making social change the axis of a campaign. Also, campaign focus widened from the environment to a range of sustainability issues. Consider my top five 2010 campaigns for creativity, issue impact, and corporate impact, with some thoughts on where they can go next.

5. Organic Valley's Generation Organic 2010 "Who's Your Farmer?" Tour

Organic Valley's future farmer recruitment tour visited college campuses to espouse the viability of a career in organic farming and educate on the benefits of organics. It's hard to overemphasize the importance of spreading the benefits of co-operative farming to boost an essential, yet declining, occupation. The 2010 tour lasted only two and a half weeks and traveled from Wisconsin through New England to D.C., meaning most of the stops hit small institutions or retailers. A logical next step: Enlist large land-grant universities where farming is a focus of the school, tie into the curriculum and create a national educational movement.


4. Disney's Give a Day, Get a Day

Volunteer a day of service to a participating organization in your community and receive a one-day theme park ticket to Disney. Disney hit its goal of 1 million volunteers in just 10 weeks, motivating community service while upping park traffic (think 1 million people + paying family and friends, all spending on incidentals). If Disney can establish a system to measure the actual impact of the campaign on the community, the company will build a compelling case for global impact.


3. Justin's Nut Butter The Least You Can Do Campaign

Justin's Least You Can Do made it easy for people to ask companies that make small condiment packages to abandon oil-based plastic for more sustainable, compostable packaging. This initiative creates a campaign that allows one of the smallest brands in the category to play a leadership role in its industry. Spreading the word by engaging with environmental non-profits, retailers, student groups, as well as industry associations will move the program to the next level.


2. Lady Gaga and Virgin Mobile's RE*Generation

"Free I.P.," a part of Virgin Mobile's RE*Generation program, offered VIP tickets to Lady Gaga fans who volunteered eight hours to homeless youth organizations. Begun in 2009, the program boosted volunteer hours by 65% last year (to more than 50,000 volunteer hours). Going forward, more tickets in each market, expanding artist involvement to different genres, broader PR support, and mobile service offers could widen age-group appeal and encourage people to expand their volunteering.


1. Levi's "Care to Air"

Levi's "Care to Air" contest spread the word about line drying by encouraging consumers to come up with creative drying rack designs. Additionally, through a collection partnership with Goodwill, Levi's put "care tags for the planet" in all its clothes to encourage people to recycle and keep clothes out of landfills. Levi Strauss has done an exemplary job of incorporating sustainability into its business model. The next logical step would be a home run for the planet: enlisting other clothing manufacturers to follow suit.


Bottom line, sustainability moved into the mainstream in 2010. I'm looking forward to the day it is the standard. For now, we can all speed the momentum by chiming in. How can these great programs better help the planet, people and business all at the same time? Who else deserves a spot on the list?

2 comments about "Back To The Future ".
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  1. Cody Barbierri from Piehead, January 12, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.

    Great post, Michael. Campaigns in 2010 really reached a new level using social media. We just launched a Facebook contest for people to submit and vote on the campaign they thought was the most engaging in 2010. Would love for you to check it out:

  2. Chris Corbett from KMA Direct Communications, January 12, 2011 at 11:49 a.m.

    Good post!

    What I like is that these campaigns all stayed away from ideological finger-wagging; stayed away from the global warming controversy (which consumers are apparently wary of); and promoted the idea that people and companies working together on "small" measurable projects can make a big difference.

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