At a time when environmentalism is at the marketing forefront, the WPP Group agency is encouraging Madison Avenue to aggregate and share energy-saving strategies with its new "Green It Forward" initiative.
The agency has created a website where New York agencies can blog about their internal efforts to stem carbon emissions, and is trying to drive traffic to the site with a full-page ad in the official guide for Advertising Week, which will be held later this month, directing people to the site with a call to action.
"We started this initiative the second I walked in the door," said Steve Hardwick, who in May returned to Grey, New York, as president after holding the same title at Strawberry Frog, New York. "I kinda had this crazy idea to challenge the industry ... through the good work of people at the agency they helped me crystallize this idea."
To tout the initiative Grey employees yesterday strolled down Madison Avenue, popping into major agencies to hand-deliver invitations (tucked inside boxes of wheatgrass) asking counterparts to join Grey in going as green as possible. Recipients included top executives at BBDO, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Berlin Cameron/United, DDB, Deutsch, DraftFCB, EuroRSCG, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, JWT, McCann Worldgroup, Publicis, Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Rubicam.
Grey is beginning in New York but hopes to eventually roll out the program to other cities.
Trying to do better
Mr. Hardwick is careful to point out that Grey isn't claiming to be the best at being green in the business -- the agency is "anything but" these days, he said, though it is trying to do better by switching to Energy-Star-rated computers and copiers, investing in data-sharing and teleconferencing to reduce travel and offering corporate discounts for bike purchases reduce its carbon footprint.
Additionally, the agency plans to seek LEED certification (the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council for its offices.
Mr. Hardwick said Grey timed the launch of the initiative just ahead of Advertising Week, slated for Sept. 24-28, which this year has a heavy emphasis on green marketing. Among other things, this year's event will feature "Together for a Sustainable World," an exhibition of 300 environmental and social ads that showed in Cannes during the International Advertising Festival.