Hoping For Double Entendre, NBCU Turns To 'Green Machine'

Work at a media buying agency and the fringe benefits aren’t too bad. There’s a lot of free stuff flowing in as networks and other media properties compete to attract buyers' attention and money.

The gratis options are probably even more than what journalists might get if they didn’t face all kinds of conflict-of-interest blockades and limits such as $25 per gift. (Lest this be misinterpreted, those restrictions are good things.)

So, is NBCUniversal giving top executives at WPP, IPG and Publicis some negotiating leverage in retaining employees? Probably not, but its “Green Machine” should be the subject of intrigue as it makes appearances at New York agencies from Mindshare to Universal McCann to Zenith next week.

It’s a full-scale, green-hued vending machine with a selection of eco-friendly items. The products are free as a promotion for NBCU’s annual “Green is Universal” effort during Earth Week, which involves more than 50 of its properties. NBCU runs public-service-type announcements with some of its stars plugging an environmentally friendly lifestyle and turns network logos green.



It is a public service, but another kind of green is pretty big goal, too. So, the machines will be joining tables of free magazines and other incentives easily accessible to a media buyer at the office.

NBCU has landed Procter & Gamble as a top-line sponsor for “Green is Universal,” where PSA-feel ads are linked with several brands (the ads began running a month ago). But, NBCU wants to use the machines to plant seeds for sponsorships going forward with not just its green, but other initiatives involving women and Hispanics.

Hip NBCU property Daily Candy was called on to select the products to fill the "Green Machine." In other words, no Birkenstocks.

There will be Dr. Hauschka eco-friendly cosmetics; fair-trade organic coffee and chocolate; and Method laundry detergent (which cuts down on air pollution). Products will spill out of the machines with an attached tip on saving the planet.

An NBCU brand ambassador will be near the machines providing tokens for product redemption, though some opt-in behavior is required to get one – ostensibly. One thinks Irwin Gotlieb or Tim Spengler would receive a reusable shopping bag with a simple hello.

Nonetheless, those controlling lesser budgets will be asked to go to and download a “One Small Act” app. That allows them make a personal commitment to cut down on carbon footprint or preserve natural resources. Suggestions: “power down your computer” or “turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.”

The “One Small Act” opportunity is being made available to the public as well. As NBCU continues its green works, CBS is expanding its EcoAd program -- where advertisers can make a contribution to a non-profit -- to include initiatives in education and wellness.

Free yoga mats and wheat grass juice coming to Madison Avenue?

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