U.K. Marks European Green Week

Marketers Tackle Social Responsibility Issues

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This week is European Green Week, and U.K. marketers and communications professionals have been doing their bit to meet the environmental challenge.


The country's two top marketer organizations -- the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers and the Marketing Society -- have both been working on initiatives to develop a common language for the marketing of green credentials to consumers.

"We have really thrown down the gauntlet on climate change to tackle the thorny issues of how we can best get out the message about companies' genuine green achievements without over-claiming," said Ian Twinn, the ISBA public affairs director who heads the organization's sustainability working group.

The Marketing Society is looking to focus on the most effective way to communicate green credentials. The idea is to find two or three simple marketing terms that can be standardized in an attempt to establish guidelines before the government finalizes its own rulings.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Co. has unveiled what it claims is the world's biggest recycled artwork: a 50-meter installation made entirely out of recycled aluminum cans, arranged to re-create a classic 1949 Coca-Cola poster of a woman in a swimsuit relaxing in the sun.

The artwork, called "Precious Metal," can be seen on the cliffs on the south coast of England. Coca-Cola is currently installing recycling zones around the U.K. to make it easier for consumers to recycle their cans and bottles.

And Marks & Spencer, the country's biggest clothing retailer, is trumpeting its ethical credentials with a new campaign, "Doing the Right Thing." The national ad push introduces an eight-point "manifesto," setting out the retailer's commitment to the highest ethical credentials. It ends with the line, "Above all, doing the right thing is doing it today, because our planet can't wait until tomorrow."

The RKCR/Y&R ads also remind us, "Helping the planet can't be put on hold when times are tough." Another execution boasts -- next to a picture of a model in a green dress -- "For some retailers, green went out of fashion as quickly as it came in."

Other messages from M&S, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, include, "We don't sell poor quality meat. It comes at too high a price" and "Fair-trade cotton. Look good on the outside, feel good on the inside."

Said Steve Sharp, executive director-marketing, Marks & Spencer: " 'Doing the Right Thing' is a no-nonsense, user-friendly expression of why we do what we do. We are already in a leading position when it comes to environmental and ethical issues, which we know customers care about increasingly."

It's not only marketers that are acting on concern for the planet. A former advertising executive has set up The International Exchange, through which communications professionals use their marketing expertise to help important causes in the developing world. Ed Richards, who worked for Leo Burnett Co., spent a month in Brazil developing a campaign to improve the lives of street garbage pickers in the city of Recife by getting people to recycle.

WPP, Leo Burnett, Wieden & Kennedy, DDB, BBDO, JWT, Ogilvy and Mindshare are among TIE's partners. Other projects completed so far include work on an AIDS campaign, the rights of indigenous people and children's rights.