Green Marketing 2008

How Agencies Are Helping Their Clients Help the Environment

From Measuring a Campaign's Carbon Footprint to Preserving the Honeybee Population

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What started as a low rumble as marketers began talking about green issues has grown to a rather loud din. And as marketers recognize the best business practices of sustainability, they more frequently turn to their marketing partners for guidance. These are some agencies coast to coast that are helping fuel the green machine.


The Omnicom Group media shop in January launched PHD Sustain, aimed at reducing the environmental impact of PHD's media plans. PHD has teamed up with a researcher from the University of California, Berkeley, to measure the environmental impact of each media channel -- for instance, the amount of electricity required to power a 30-second spot.

Using those data, an Environmental Media Sustainability Index is created for media planners. The software tool shows how green options, such as solar-panel billboards, can lessen a media plan's environmental hazards. That way, when media planners are considering costs per thousand for clients such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Discovery Communications, they can also factor in sustainability. "For those who are truly concerned with sustainability, it matters," says PHD North American CEO Matt Seiler.


Omnicom's Porter Novelli has developed the PN Styles database of 12,000 U.S. consumers, including what it has determined to be the most important segments of the green consumer audience. It recently helped Hewlett-Packard Co. launch its HP Imaging and Printing Group's environmental printing solutions initiative.


Also at Omnicom, Rapp Collins has formed an agencywide Green Council to develop sustainable options and green alternatives in print production. A recent example is a PepsiCo direct-mail campaign. The Lipton PureLeaf effort targeted "Whole Foodies" and focused on the consumer's healthy-living attitude using paper that was 30% post-consumer waste.


Ketchum has established a network of green-focused individuals within all of the agency's practices. Earlier this year, it launched the Ketchum Sustainability Network, a 20-person team specializing in sustainability and environmental initiatives. Dave Chapman, partner and director, is the Omnicom-owned agency's lead on green initiatives. Ketchum has 30 green-focused efforts around the globe, including the "Help the Honey Bee" initiative for Häagen-Dazs, which supports sustainable-pollination research programs.


"We're not a fad," says Adam Werbach, CEO of Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi S. He adds: "We aren't jumping on the opportunity; we honestly feel like we've been building it."

There's no disputing that Mr. Werbach isn't new to green. At 23, he was the youngest president of the Sierra Club. And before he sold his consultancy, Act Now Productions, to Saatchi & Saatchi, it was pushing companies to adopt sustainable practices. Now's he's spearheading Saatchi & Saatchi's green efforts via the S operation created last January.

Mr. Werbach has added 15 staff members to the core of 40 from Act Now. These aren't exactly typical agency folks. They include a former energy chair of the Clinton Global Initiative, a minister, a manufacturing-process expert with 30 years of experience in Detroit auto plants, consumer-products-packaging experts, experts in product-life-cycle analysis and architects accredited by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. "We are as much management consultants as marketers," Mr. Werbach says. Clients include General Mills' Green Giant brand, health insurer WellPoint and Wal-Mart Stores, which earlier turned to Mr. Werbach as a sustainability consultant.


Leo Burnett's global campaign for the World Wildlife Fund may change its image as an agency for marketers that are not exactly synonymous with sustainability. Publicis-owned Burnett helped the World Wildlife Fund debut "Earth Hour" in 2007, when it plunged the skyline of Sydney, Australia, into darkness. This year Burnett helped push the promotion globally, as more than 40 cities worldwide shut off their lights for an hour. Burnett Senior VP David Brot, who led the U.S. effort, says the project "resulted in a dialogue with management about how to make Burnett a greener place. There's a lot of pride in our leadership role."


Late last year, Publicis' Manning Selvage & Lee launched its global Eco Network, led by Sheila Gruber McLean and Megan Jordan. For Home Depot, MS&L helped launch the Eco Options product line of energy-saving devices and sustainable forestry materials. MS&L says what sets its green offering apart from other agencies' is that it focuses on driving business value. Clients tapping the network also include General Motors Corp., Philips, Coca-Cola Co., Financial Times and Best Buy Co.


Independent Droga5 expanded the Tap Project, its cause-marketing initiative to bring all children clean drinking water, into a national effort this year. The agency asked shops coast to coast -- including Saatchi & Saatchi, Hill Holliday and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners -- to volunteer to create city-centric creative campaigns to promote World Water Week. During the event, restaurant patrons are asked to make donations for water that's ordinarily provided for free. Proceeds go to UNICEF, which will help children in developing countries obtain clean water.


Weber Shandwick's Cleantech and Planet 2050 practices lead its green efforts. Cleantech, headed by William Brent, works with companies engaged in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Planet 2050, led by Brendan May, is the agency's global corporate-responsibility and -sustainability practice. Siemens and Honeywell have used the green-practices program of Weber, part of Interpublic Group of Cos. All of Weber's U.S. offices recently were certified for meeting international environmental standards.


Managing Director Scott Farrell heads GolinHarris' GeoImpact, founded in 2007. The Interpublic PR agency develops sustainability messaging across multiple dimensions of corporate and product communications. GeoImpact is helping Dow Chemical Co. leverage its global sustainability initiative.


The agency is part of Ogilvy Group's Greenery, founded late last year. Jamie Moeller, managing director-global public affairs practice, heads the WPP Group shop's green efforts. CDW Corp. is working with Ogilvy to launch its corporate-citizenship and -sustainability program, which includes measuring the company's environmental footprint.


WPP's Hill & Knowlton approaches the area as a cross-discipline expertise, tapping regulatory affairs, policy creation, and stakeholder and influencer outreach. HSBC has employed Hill & Knowlton's green expertise for its "No Small Challenge" campaign designed to encourage customers to use paperless banking options. The company has since charged H&K with creating awareness surrounding the unveiling of the bank's first LEED-certified branch in Greece, N.Y.


Landor Associates' research indicates that sustainability must be integrated into an organization as a brand. As a result, the WPP-owned agency decided against creating a stand-alone green unit and has instead embedded sustainability and its green knowledge across the organization. Russ Meyer, global chief strategy officer, is Landor's point person on green efforts. Some of those tapping into its green expertise include BP, News Corp. and Earthpark, an environmental learning center being developed in Iowa.


Mitchell D. Markson, president-consumer brands and global creative director, heads up Edelman's Goodpurpose initiative. The PR agency says its sustainability expertise is aiding Wal-Mart, Starbucks Corp. and the Environmental Defense Fund.


Independent digital agency IMC2 recently launched Clear Sky Digital Media, a free online tool marketers can use to calculate the carbon footprints of their online campaigns. Clear Sky Digital Media, developed with ICF International and an environmental researcher at Stanford University, converts online media buys into a kilowatt-hour measure of the energy necessary to support their delivery. That measurement is translated into carbon emissions and then used to determine the cost of purchasing reliable offset credits from organizations that fund emission reductions.


Horizon Media slashed the amount of paper used in media buys when it started applying a system called Eleven, which is totally paperless, to maintain buys for local TV, cable and radio. "The total carbon footprint of this process is being reduced 100%," says Amy Berke, senior VP-brand strategy in Horizon's Los Angeles office.

Many agencies are also getting greener on the inside, and it goes beyond recycling paper.

  • WPP Group's Tackling Climate Change is a holding-companywide initiative to reduce its energy consumption. The company has identified four areas for conservation: office, IT, travel and procurement. WPP says up to 70% of the electricity used in its U.K. offices comes from renewable sources. The company plans to cut the energy used by computers in its offices worldwide by 30%.

  • Grey last fall launched its Green It Forward initiative and website to encourage Madison Avenue agencies to share and swap eco-friendly practices. The WPP agency itself took steps to reduce its carbon footprint, including corporate discounts for bike purchases.

  • Omnicom digital agency Organic is partnering with San Francisco nonprofit Live Neutral to help offset its carbon footprint. Using a survey of the number of commuters at the agency and an analysis of its financial data, Organic calculates carbon generated by the agency and then purchases carbon credits from Live Neutral to offset its environmental impact.

  • Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide tied the greening of its agency back to its clients via the new Project Greener Light initiative. BBDO, New York, for example, replaced all incandescent light bulbs in the office with client GE's compact fluorescent lights and, to bring the idea home, made the CFLs available to staffers at a discounted price at another client, Lowe's.

  • Publicis' MediaVest formalized an office greening effort last October, in part because a large number of the agency's employees, with an average age of 26, identified it as a priority. Beyond the usual recycling of paper and glass, the New York office has introduced green cleaning agents for the floors and bagless vacuum cleaners. Even the agency's food isn't going to waste: After officewide events, extra food is donated to area homeless, senior and youth programs.

    And then there's the contrarian:

    Goodby, Silverstein & Partners has no plans to set up a separate "green" unit. "To us, that smacks of opportunism," says Harold Sogard, vice chairman of the Omnicom-owned agency. "In advertising, all the time we are supposed to represent what is going on in the world around us and connecting with popular culture. The green movement is part of popular culture now, but to set this up as a separate unit seems silly. People try too much in this business to jump on trends to say, 'We're on that,' and it's bogus."

    That's not to say Goodby isn't forgoing the opportunity to be involved in green campaigns.

    It created Häagen-Dazs' honeybee ad and Hewlett-Packard's environmental "Dandelion" ad and participated in Droga5's Tap Project.

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    Reported by Megan McIlroy, Michael Bush, Rupal Parekh, Mya Frazier and Jeremy Mullman
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