IBM’s Lennox: Green marketing demands truth in advertising

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New York—Green marketing provides plenty of opportunity for marketers, but the concept is currently in a “wild west” stage.

“One of the big issues our clients have is there are no clear standards,” said Elaine Lennox, VP-marketing for the IBM Systems and Technology Group, in Thursday’s morning keynote speech at the Direct Marketing Association’s DM Days New York conference.

IBM last year introduced IBM Big Green, its initiative for itself becoming environmentally friendly and helping its IT clients do the same.

Lennox said in order to implement green marketing, marketers need to stop thinking about it as a marketing initiative and start thinking about it companywide.

“Don’t think about green in terms of ‘How do I make this product look green?’ ” she said. “You are ‘green-washing’ it in that scenario. Instead, ask: ‘How will I make my company green and make my products green because of it?’ ”

Lennox added that honesty in advertising, transparency and the ability to verify the green claim with documented, auditable processes are also critical.

“People are becoming more educated in this area, so you have to be careful about what you do in your advertising,” she said. “You can’t just make claims in your advertising anymore that are not verifiable.”

—Carol Krol

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