Call it eco-savvy, a trait that's turning into sound eco-nomics. And that creates the need to put the Advertising Age microscope on eco-marketers.
Toyota's introduction last month of the Lexus LS 600h L, a so-called Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, is one of the latest, and possibly the most grandiose, examples of a mass marketer thinking green. But for Ad Age, planning for this Special Report began a full summer ago, when "An Inconvenient Truth" was just starting to pack theaters with viewers eager to get out of the stifling heat.
The Special Reports staff is good at getting its arms around a new topic, such as the Marketing 50. But somehow this one felt different from the green-marketing Special Reports of the early 1990s that trotted out Kermit the Frog and his green speech. Eco-marketing ramped up because we all agreed this was important on a new level. Say what you will about ulterior profit motives and eco-hucksterism, but smart marketers recycle, save energy, cut carbon emissions and generally seem to get this topic as a means to making bottom-line numbers. And corporate resources on an unprecedented level are falling into place as marketers reach for a higher cause -- and at the same time, all of the eco-marketers are keenly aware that a skeptical public is going to keep them on their carbon-footprint toes.
This isn't just about buying into a trend; it's about giving the next generations a fighting chance in a more hostile environment. In this area, marketing, just as it did on seat-belt use and smoking, is playing a crucial role.
So what makes an eco-marketer?
First and foremost, a marketer has to have developed a real business model. No CEO can afford to run deeply into the red by spending on expensive recycling programs, green buildings and carbon offsets. But in our research, Ad Age editors found common-sense threads running throughout marketers' programs as they all repeated the mantra "Good for you, good for the earth." The staff established the key categories for this report: transportation, automotive, package goods, technology services, travel/tourism and retail.
Does that mean all of our honorees are carbon-neutral yet? Of course not. There's so much more to be done. But they have clearly illuminated paths, and green-savvy watchdogs aren't going to let anyone backslide.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council offers countless tips for greening your office space on its website.
Conserving paper tops the list. The average office pitches about 350 pounds of paper per employee, per year, according to the NRDC. Little steps such as setting printers to print double-sided or reserving a tray for draft paper that's white on one side will go a long way to saving trees. Want help starting an office recycling program or getting your business to adopt more energy-efficient practices? Go to the NRDC's website for more tips.