Category: Blog

Brave charity and purpose based storytelling from 2020

In a crazy year creativity and standout messages for purpose led campaigns have flourished. Here’s my pick of some of the great campaigns and partnerships delivering good stories and messages for ageing, diversity, child hunger and emergency support during the pandemic, the environment and accessible design.

1. Age UK and Cadbury
220,000 people go each week without speaking to anyone! Continuing this innovative partnership, Cadbury and Age UK deliver this wonderful celebration of older people by finding out fun stories from their past; ‘ask me about travelling the world’, ‘kissing rock stars’, being ‘Photographed nude’! Old age should be celebrated, not made to disappear.

2. British Red Cross
Great storytelling about the benefits of British Red Cross during #covid19 – with a tight turnaround and limited materials, it’s an impressive film!  Created in the very early stages of lockdown. Love the result.

3. You love my culture, but do you love me?
There has been much reflection and soul searching within the communications industry about what’s being done to increase diversity with the BLM . Well observed film here from Beats which speaks of cultural appropriation.

4. The Look
Taking off where You Love my Culture started. A brave film – I watched this twice, it’s a good start to acknowledge ‘the look’ but going forward Procter & Gamble have the power to do much more than just tell the story.

5. Heinz and Child Hunger Silence the Rumble
Heinz highlight child hunger in the UK told through an animated girl who has ‘The Rumble’

The problem came into the spotlight during the pandemic, with Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford campaigning to feed hungry kids. The campaign included an “Empty plate” installation on London’s South Bank to raise awareness of the scale of child hunger in the UK. The 1,300 square-feet installation made up of 1,800 plates to represent the 1.8 million children at risk of hunger in the morning.

6. WWF’s What a Pangolin?
Good marketing strategy to star in your own movie by WWF-UK, a well-cast voice over for this pangolin, who is probably better known by all us now after the pandemic….

7. Greenpeace’s ‘Rang-tan’ sequel there’s a monster in my kitchen
Animation is again the thing.. and it’s exciting to see Greenpeace’s sequel, which this time takes aim at industrial meat production. Nice integration with the previous ad with the animated boy sneaking down stairs with same sort of words; “there’s a monster in my kitchen”. This is destined for paid social media and in cinemas, localised for each European audience. 

8.RNIB “Design for everyone”
RNIB have made an accessible pregnancy test prototype, which would allow women with sight loss to know their result privately. Great innovation can come from many places and the print ads illustrate well the implications of inaccessible design.

9. Patagonia does Black Friday a good service
A good lesson in the long copy ad and it cut through on social media.

 10. Even Snoop is saving the planet
Snoop Dogg’s at it again, after Just Eat, he’s now saving the planet with SodaStream, one bottle at a time – saving thousands of bottles in the process.

Beautiful and clever storytelling wins the day. Wishing us all a speedy and creative recovery from the Global Pandemic in 2021.

Giles Robertson is a Marketing Society Fellow,  Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at the University of Bedfordshire Business School and Director of Green Banana Marketing Ltd

@gogreenbanana, Linkedin or email

From Fenton to Orang-utans; the rise and fall of viral

What makes the good, the bad and the ugly in the viral film world – seemingly all of these attributes can bring you great success. We set out here how you could increase the success factor with your own viral creative – starting with a quick memory jolt of some of the landmark viral films that pushed the boundaries and expectations.

Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge back in 2014? Or ‘Fenton Jesus Christ’ in Richmond Park, viewed a staggering 21 million times, the chuckle of the passer by recording is still very funny… And then there’s ‘Charlie Bit My Finger – again’ (viewed 870 million times). The ‘Charlie’ film helped launch Viral Spiral, founded by Damian Collier, who tracked down Charlie’s mum and dad – who admit to earning in excess of £100,000s from the video. So Charlie is still laughing (and hopefully not biting). And we all remember the Cadbury’s Gorilla drumming to Phil Collins’ I can feel it coming in the night, viewed just under a yummy 10 million.

Fig 1 Who can forget Fenton rampaging across Richmond, Park in 2011
Fig 2 Charlie bit my finger, again inspired a new approach to viral

The history of viral is as mesmerising and meandering as the journey to going viral. In 1995 two men made a short film, it took ten years later to launch with YouTube in 2005. Now 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and for big brands, it is big business. Brands are constantly trying to embrace trends; music and any feel good factor that often comes with the phenomena of the ‘viral video’. The video of South Korean based Gangnam Style in 2012 is the most watched viral film of all time – viewed an eye popping one billion times in 5 months (and how many phone ring downloads and horsey dancing copycats..?).  Who doesn’t love PSY’s energy… which contrasts nicely to Adele’s 2015 Hello, viewed to date 2.5 million times and of course the Bond film music for Skyfall. It feels familiar and why does rain work so well for sad..?

We set out to define what we mean by viral, looking at the very best (and worst) examples, to help define what the formula for success is and whether they are any use (for purpose based agendas or for sales?).

Companies use viral videos as a type of marketing strategy. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is considered to have been one of the first viral marketing strategies to hit the world when Dove released their Evolution video in 2006; “you’re more beautiful than you think”, spreading across social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. And of course this trend has spawned a host of awards such as the Viral Video Awards in Berlin, which began in 2008 who only accept films made for internet consumption and for viral distribution (without any media backing). And there’s our first moot point, as many household brands use seed money to get their viral films going. But as Dolce & Gabbana found out in late 2018 going global isn’t always straightforward, with their viral placed on various Chinese social media sites. It depicted a woman in a luxurious D&G dress attempting to eat a pizza with chopsticks with an announcement that apparently mocked Chinese speech. Although D&G removed the ads from social media within 24 hours, the damage was done with calls of racism.

Fig 3 Dove Real Beauty shows we are all more beautiful than we think

Jonah Berger, professor at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and the author of Invisible Influence says of viral films; “Unfortunately there is no hard and fast definition.  Further people often use viral to mean highly shared, but what it really often means is popular. A video can get a million views because a brand paid to have it placed on various sites.  That’s why I talk about how contagious something is, or how likely it is to be shared given exposure.” Goldberg also makes an important point – many so-called viral sensations are far from organic. They are “seeded” with millions of emails and paid support such as digital ads. And don’t forget the dark side of social media influence – likes, views and followers can be purchased”.

Salt Bae became famous in 2017 with his now infamous flick of salt from the elbow, the video posting on Instagram gained 16 million views. Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, aka Salt Bae’s video shows Nusret throwing salt flamboyantly on pieces of meat, gaining 8,700 comments. But also, Nusret has become so popular, his restaurants are booming worldwide, including his latest venture in London. Not bad from one simple meme.

The 2013 Viral Video Award winner was ‘Follow the Frog’, ushering in purpose based communication. It’s a great and amusing story about the lengths an everyday guy is willing to go to make a difference, he could have more easily made a difference by following the frog – the Rainforest Alliance certification for food products, attracting 1,650 comments and a tasty 5.6 million views.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in the US went viral and inspired people in over 150 other countries to help do something good in 2014. It really took off when Justin Timberlake and Justin Bieber took part, in support of slowing the horrible disease – known as Motor Neurone Disease here.  Even Trump had a go, proving his hair was real and nominating President Obama and two of his sons to the cold water bucket challenge.

Fig 4 Donald takes the ALS Ice Bucket challenge in 2014 and nominates
sons and Obama
Fig 5 It would have been easier to follow the Frog in this epic viral for Rainforest Alliance from 2012

The Ice Bucket concept was to video yourself pouring an ice bucket of water over yourself and tagging three friends on social media, who had to respond within 24 hours in the same way and to donate to the ALS charity. Whether it’s ‘slacktivisim’ or encouraging ‘clicktivists’ – which is about looking like you are helping for free – this viral trend had 2.4 million videos posted within months.  With 17 million ice bucket challenges viewed 440 million times, it helped raise $220m worldwide, creating much joy for something that is no joy at all, in the disease.

MNDA, the Motor Neurone Disease Association (the charity most strongly associated with ALS in the UK), has raised £7m from ice bucket donations, a sum worthy of a half seconds soaking on a warm summer’s day.

But in the context of other previous charity challenges, did ‘IBC’ actually deliver? The ‘no makeup selfie’ for CRUK raised over £8m in just 6 days and ‘Movember 2013’ raised a whopping £20.4m in just one month. All of these suggesting that although the ‘IBC’ could have raised significantly more in four months of intensive activity with an estimated 20 million people taking part, viral films are a great route to success for good causes.   

More recently in 2018, Iceland’s ‘Say hello to Rang-tan film’ was a great partnership and a timely focus on the issue of palm oil. Using Greenpeace’s film narrated by Emma Thompson, this was the surprise most watched Christmas ad ever online with 6 million views and 6,500 comments. The ad was banned for broadcast for being too political, which helped drive interest in the issue of deforestation and the effects on habitats and wildlife in the production of palm oil. There was even a consumer petition to get the ad ‘unbanned’.  To Iceland’s credit they have since decided to remove palm oil from all their products.

Of course viral marketing is inherently unpredictable. Nothing guarantees success more than “going viral” (and even more difficult is to predict the reach it will have). Even a viral marketing company by your side can not predict what will happen. There’s a bit of luck, but it is fair to say, to paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, “you make your own luck”. If you understand your audience, you can increase your chances of success with a few tried and tested ‘knowns’.  Factors for success have been identified from viewing dozens of viral videos which could and should increase your chances of being the next Fenton or Orang-utan, by considering the following:

  1. Keep it random, sometimes tough to explain why they are any good. Perhaps more than anything, it’s the unexpected nature, springing something surprising on us
  2.  A personal reflection – a different quality is the ‘proximity’ to us, a unique take on something every day. We all see rainbows but seeing a double rainbow in Yosemitebear Mountain, nobody sees it like this guy! Though that special hook is notoriously difficult to predict
  3. Participation and inspiring creativity, people love to feel that they can copy the story or join into the phenomena – it gives them a kind of power, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or the Harlem Shake, which seems to be particularly important to the on-going success of any viral film, the story can shift from the producer to the viewer in that respect. In other words, it’s very spoofable!
  4. Funny and touching  – it would seem that most successful virals are more often than not genuinely a bit of a laugh and can also make us cry
  5. Keep them beautifully, simple and short – possibly no more than one minute. According to scientists, in the age of smartphones humans have such a short attention span, even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer*  Now that sounds like a viral..!
  6. Connectors and fans early on are what can make the thing go stratospheric, bloggers, taste makers latch on – look what happened when like Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake did the IBC?

Whether it’s clicks and shares or “slacktivism”, there’s no doubting that in their moment, good virals are great fun and news worthy in themselves. Capturing that moment is as tricky as finding the end of that rainbow. But if you know your audience and do what seems authentic and true…the possibilities are limitless.  And the ugly nature of ALS or Motor Neurone Disease, will according to reports, have the money raised spent on helping identify a new gene associated with the ALS disease.

Giles Robertso, Lecturer in Digital Marketing, University of Bedfordshire, Director of Green Banana Marketing Ltdand a Marketing Society Fellow.

You can find Giles on Twitter and Linkedin or email




Trump doing ALS challenge

Marketing; Hacking the Unconscious Ep 1  (BBC Sounds)


Channel 4 News

Charlie Bit My Finger

Cadbury Gorillas


Nusret (Salt Bae)


Iceland’s Banned 2018 TV Christmas Advert… Say hello to Rang-tan. #NoPalmOilChristmas

Dove Real Beauty campaign

Business Daily The rise and fall of viral marketing

Business Daily Viral Marketing

Gangland Style

Kitroeff, Natalie (19 May 2014). “Why That Video Went Viral”. New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2015.

Bahadur, Nina (21 January 2014). “How Dove Tried To Change The Conversation About Female Beauty”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 November 2015.

Ten years on the board with the Marine Conservation Society

I was recently asked how much had changed over the 10 years I’d been a trustee for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). And that made me reflect on my time with this amazing, marine-focused charity. What is expected of a trustee of a charitable organisation has definitely increased over time, but this might be commensurate with a new breed of trustee, who is willing to help out in many and varied ways – which is inspiring for all of us.

When The Kid’s Company charity collapsed in 2015, there was a sense that the increased scrutiny on trustees would inevitably have a detrimental effect on recruitment to the board. But that is a far cry from our recent recruitment experience for new trustees. We received over 80 CVs, and I am delighted that we have recruited seven new, highly skilled trustees to the MCS board.

Also, I believe there has been a shift towards greater team working, which is paying dividends.  Trustees are keen to get to know one other as individuals and to value each other’s contribution to the board.

And finally, there has been an increase in the importance of (and dependence on) volunteers on a larger scale, such as mobilising people through our 650 Sea Champions, 12 Ocean Ambassadors, 250 Seasearch divers and over 29,000 individual, local volunteers.

It was wonderful to be asked to join the MCS board in May 2010, after an interview with the then CEO and Vice-Chair. Some years before joining the charity, a colleague of mine on the marine team at WWF explained the purpose of this area of work. The analogy of trying to catch one pheasant in a four-acre forest, with a bulldozer knocking down all the trees, really stuck in my mind – swap the pheasant for a fish and that gives you the extent of the destruction wreaked in marine habitats. I was hooked (excuse the pun). Thank you, Stuart Singleton-White!

I’ve worked with so many wonderful people and learnt so much about the sea, from the beautiful and amazing Darwin Mounds off the North West Scottish coast to the importance of Red Sea ferns.  There have been many organisational changes including two offices, three Chairs (going on four!), two CEOs and three Marketing Directors.

MCS’s recent Donate Your Guilt campaign

I am proud of all that has been achieved since 2010, with a significant increase in profile, and membership numbers growing from 4,500 to 11,000. Income has likewise increased from £1.7 to nearly £4m per year. Social media followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have risen from 8,000 to just over 200,000. And the number of UK beach cleans has risen from 350 to over 600 a year.

But perhaps more importantly, we really are now the first port of call in these troubling times for government and business. The ‘Blue Planet’ effect lives on – David Attenborough himself recently said it’s hard to believe how quickly the public has understood the disastrous impact of plastic waste on the marine environment. MCS had driven this issue forward for many years single-handedly, but it seems we’ve now reached a positive tipping point.

With this momentum, there are new challenges and opportunities to work with big brands like Glenmorangie, Ocado, M&S, Sky and Waitrose.

It’s been a great honour to serve on the board of MCS.  I am so pleased to have been part of their journey as a trustee and really look forward to seeing their future achievements and partnerships. 

MCS are now looking for an exceptional person to Chair the organisation and I would highly recommend joining the team – please follow this link if you would like to find out more

Best charity marketing campaigns of 2018

I’ve selected 3 stand-out charity ads from 2018 which have each delivered creatively and used media partnerships to their advantage.

In first place, it has to be Iceland’s ‘Say hello to Rang-tan film’.
A great partnership and a timely focus on the issue of palm oil. Using Greenpeace’s film narrated by Emma Thompson, this is the surprise most watched Christmas ad ever online. Iceland’s launch was very ‘John Lewis’, supported by their own official Orangutan Plush toy on sale and other marketing ideas, like the use of a realistic animatronic orangutan lost on the streets of London, helping to highlight the issue. The ad was banned for broadcast by Clearcast for being too political, which was a PR blinder for Iceland, and helped drive interest in the issue of deforestation and the effects on habitats and wildlife in the production of palm oil. There was even a consumer petition to get the ad unbanned.  To Iceland’s credit they have decided to remove palm oil from all their products – a great combination of PR, social media and experiential marketing.

In second place,  the Samaritan’s ‘Small Talk Saves Lives campaign’.
Another educational and inspiring film about the issue of suicide on the rail track by the Samaritans. The hairs on the back of the neck moment is when you realise who the narrator of the film is – Sarah, who herself was contemplating suicide at a station when a passer-by took the time to check on her. We are told in the film that a little small talk really does save lives; for every life lost, six are saved by others taking small actions like this. With 6,213 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2017, hopefully this campaign will show that people can make a difference. A great use of partnerships with the British Transport Police and Network Rail and a fine social strategy to spread the film organically on Linkedin and Twitter.

And finally, on a lighter note – Save the Children’s Jumper Day promotion.
This poster on the underground is funny and simple. Save the Children have made the Christmas Jumper Day stand out, quite literally by poking you in the eye. By signing up and donating £2 you can make a child’s future better. I hope this ad has worked well for them, and again good to see media partnerships with Amazon and Visa making this possible.












Wishing you all a positive, creative and healthy 2019.
















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Top ten charity campaigns of 2017

What makes the best charity marketing campaigns of 2017 is to stand out and be noticed with a great channel idea and a real audience focus….. a new take on a well-established issue, which is always tough to deliver. I hope that you agree, we have some crackers here, in what has been another tough year for many, so I am really pleased with the breadth.

1. ‘We are the Marine Conservation Society’
I don’t think MCS has ever been in my year’s list, which is about to change with this inspirational film, where you can almost taste the salt of the sea and it inspires you to do that bit more for the ‘Big Blue’.

Not resting on their laurels, their full-paged ad appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Monday 11th December, tactically well timed appearing just after the final episode of Blue Plane 2. Already ‘signed’ by an impressive 37 environmental organisations, which MCS managed to achieve in 3 days, the open letter to the UK government puts pressure on them to take responsibility to look after our seas. Watch this space closely to see what government action will be taken.

Ok so I am biased, as a Trustee of the Marine Conservation Society for the last 7 years, but in that time it has never made the list!








2. Blue Planet ii
You can’t have the BBC in here, can you, with their vast budgets? That aside, their Blue Planet ii prequel really did whet the appetite for their new series, which by no means disappointed.

3. United Against Dementia
I do like the concept of stopping for a moment- it reminds me of Remembrance Day. Stop, take a deep breath, now think of others. How hard was that? This film ‘Alzheimer’s Society Come Together, Dementia Doesn’t care’ asks us to reflect on our similarities, not our differences.

4. WWF’s A Living River
HSBC created an amazing installation to celebrate its work with WWF’s #ALivingRiver and the Yangtze river conservation work funded by the bank.

5. Plaster Pads
Plan International’s Plaster Pads campaign works well in its aims to normalise women’s periods and in a small way, show the world this is normal. It isn’t a big campaign but I like the creative approach. Hopefully these are small steps towards making people feel comfortable around this subject rather than awkward; Plan’s own research shows 48% of girls currently feel embarrassed about their periods, which is not acceptable.






6. Wrap Up London
Well done Wrap Up London, a clever take on an old theme with this flyer, collecting coats for vulnerable people from homeless to refugees and sufferers of domestic abuse alike.








7. Action for Children – change forever
Action for Children use press ads to show how fostering can change a child’s life forever- clever and thought provoking.





8. Smear for Smear
The share your #SmearForSmear to raise awareness of the importance of smear tests in preventing cervical cancer was a thoughtful idea, and it had good standout on social media, showing women that prevention is the best cure.

9. Project Emma
If only it wasn’t from a big corporation; ‘Build 2017 Project Emma’, can’t help but make you smile (and cry) in equal measure. This wrist ‘wearable’ helps people suffering with Parkinson’s disease and is the definition of what technology should be all about. Well done Microsoft – hopefully this will move from concept to affordable product soon.


10. WWF Black Friday
WWF’s Black Friday marketing was clever and their email cut through well for me.








From the small ideas to the mighty, each of these charity campaigns are straight to the point and engaging.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, prosperous and creative 2018.



Local charities shine at Community Impact Bucks Photo awards

I was delighted to sponsor the 2017 Community Impact Bucks photo competition Awards, which was a great success.  Congratulations to all the 32 organisations who entered over 140 photos; everyone one of the photos gave us a real sense of the charities’ inspiration for making a difference in our community.

The competition chimes with Green Banana Marketing’s passion and belief in helping charities and social enterprise tell their story through great marketing.

The judging inspired us and brought us that bit closer to the work of the charities. And many of the wonderful photos quite literally made us laugh (and cry)!








In third place was Buckinghamshire Mind, with their brilliant atmospheric image of a team day out. They look so happy spending a windy day on the pier,  as part of a close group. They won a half day’s consultancy with Green Banana Marketing.








In second place was St Francis’ Children’s Society winning £150 cash donation to their charity. It’s such a vibrant, colourful and engaging photo. Just from their hands you believe the artists are enthused by what they are doing. A really strong message with the words they are painting, which resonates with the work of the charity.

And in first place was Youth Concern, who won an Ipad 4 to be used by their youth workers.

It was a unanimous decision from the judges. This unusual format of Usual Suspects meets Trainspotting, made it a very contemporary photo. We loved the fact that it shows so clearly the personalities of the young people and the signs they are holding shows their gratitude for the charity and what they do.

A big thank you to all who entered and to the team at Community Impact Bucks who made this happen. We look forward to seeing your entries in 2018!

Three campaigns showing bravery

Bravery takes on a new meaning when fighting against environmental, social and human rights wrongs. I’m still inspired by the words of WWF’s Founder, Sir Peter Scott, who said; “We shan’t save all we should like to, but we shall save a great deal more than if we had never tried”. A sentence etched with brave intent.

I have chosen three examples of brave campaigns standing up to ‘wrongs’.

Boys wearing skirts
Like something from the pages of Boy in the dress by David Walliams, boys at an Exeter school took their protest against the school’s “no shorts” policy, as temperatures soared in late June, to the head teacher. Suffering from the heat, one of the teachers sarcastically said ‘Well you can wear a skirt if you like’. So the next day they all turned up wearing skirts.

Long live their campaigning spirits. The head admitted that if the heatwave continued, she would be happy to consider a change for the future. However small this injustice, it took bravery tochallenge the rules.

Bridge Over Troubled Water
It’s tough knowing how to respond to disasters on the scale of the Glenfell Tower tragedy. Simon Cowell knew just how -to record and release a version of Bridge Over Troubled Water to raise money for the victims and survivors. It takes courage and bravery to jump into recording a song, and putting yourself on the line for others. So many artists took part including Bastille, Brian May, Emeli Sande, Jessie J, Paloma Faith, Stormzy and The Who (Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend) and Tony Hadley. It has also been revealed that Simon Cowell donated £100,000 of his own money.


A Living River installation
On the subject of rivers, HSBC created an installation to celebrate its work with WWF’s Living Rivers – #ALivingRiver about the Yangtze river conservation work funded by the bank. In the words of former marketing director Chris Clarke, “the bold and slightly hare-brained project was the product of trust in our agency born of long-term team continuity”. A brave way to bring alive the project touching many with the important conservation story.

What does bravery mean to you and your organisation? Every day actions can make a difference. Stand up to wrongs. It is the inspiration and driver for all I have done in the charity sector.

Wishing you all a happy summer.

Shortlisted for Marketing Excellence Not-for-Profit Award

So thrilled to have been shortlisted for our Healthwatch Bucks campaign for the 2017 Marketing Excellence Awards.

We’re alongside some amazing peers, with great campaigns for #Jointheherd, Girlguiding and St Johns Ambulance, including Livity, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, 101 and Grey London.

Our campaign successfully engaged people on the quality of their health and social care. The campaign quadrupled web visitors –
up 300% which generated a doubling of people leaving feedback on their health services (a year’s worth of feedback in five weeks). We are now running a ‘Thank You’ campaign.

We drove a 60% increase in social followers and 826 engagements.

Finger’s crossed for the awards night!


The Top 10 Charity Marketing Campaigns in 2016

This year’s selection of the best charity marketing campaigns of 2016 all use thoughtful approaches to engaging with their audiences. Cutting through counts against what has been a challenging backdrop for charities in 2016, with uncertainties around Brexit (particularly for environmental and human rights campaigning organisations), and with a new Fundraising Regulator making its presence felt (- two charities having already been fined)- the market continues to be tough for gaining new supporters and funds. This year’s best charity marketing campaigns include:

1. Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces, tackling homophobic attitudes in sport, came of age in 2016 with the ‘Rainbow’ appearing at Premier League fixtures, top-level rugby union games and even on the Wembley Arch.

2. Shelter’s Vertical Rush took challenge events to a new level with 1,300 runners climbing the 932 steps in London’s Tower 42, and raised a whopping £1.2 million!

3. Time to Talk Day 2016 from Comic Relief and Department of Health took place on the first Thursday in February. They asked the nation to spend 5 minutes talking about mental health, encouraging people to break down the barriers surrounding this difficult subject – a positive and much needed initiative, with 1 in 4 of us experiencing mental health issues.

4. Channel Four’s ‘We’re Superhumans’ promoted coverage of the 2016 Paralympics in Rio with the “Yes I can” chant. This was made up of brilliant goosebumps stuff, featuring a determined cast of 140 disabled sports, performers and members of the public.

5. #22PushupsChallenge campaign reached its target of 22 million pushups around the world to raise awareness of the 22 veteran suicides a day. It required people to complete 22 press-ups in 22 days, to film this challenge and upload it on social media, nominating somebody else for the challenge.

6. Mencap’s Changing Places toilet campaign aimed to increase the number of toilets with a bench, hoist and extra space to meet the needs of the 250,000 people in the country with learning and physical disability. Currently their basic needs aren’t being met as there are just 800 specially designed toilets across the UK.

7. Timpson Free Dry Cleaning campaign offered free dry cleaning for the unemployed (and potentially homeless) who had job interviews.

8. Similarly, Action on Addiction encouraged dry cleaners to donate uncollected suits to Action on Addiction to help recovering substance misusers find a job. 34 dry cleaning services in London have signed up to this campaign.

9. The BBC Micro:bit – a pocket-sized codeable computer with built-in compass and Bluetooth technology, was given free to every child in Year 7 across the UK giving children an exciting and engaging introduction to coding, to help realise their potential early on. Impressive stuff.

10. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home launched the ‘Digital Doggy’ called Barley – a fundraising initiative in which a dog on a billboard appeared to follows shoppers as they walked past.

These charity campaigns are straightforward and engage creatively on many levels, and are clear manifestations of the charities’ purposes.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Tips on creating your own Movember charity idea

Moustaches and sit-ups; charities understandably want a slice of the action from Movember (still going strong from its peak of raising a whopping £20.4 million for Prostate Cancer in 2013), the ALS Ice Bucket challenge (no kidding, in 2014 – 20 million took part and it raised £7m), the no make-up selfie (generating £2m for CRUK) and of course, to the current 22 sit ups a day for #22kill.

I don’t think this approach to engagement works well for all established charities. My tips on how to create your charity idea – your Movember are to:

1. Build your big idea around your content
– The thing that only you can do – that sets you apart, the reason people love what you do
– For instance, if you’re the RSPB, why not have an imaginary interview with migrating birds? “Where have you come from – what was the journey like, tell me about the Countries you’ve travelled through and the challenges you’ve faced?” And it can link nicely back to RSPB’s work, protecting habitats and wild places

2. Deliver a message that works with your supporter base
– Understand where they are on the supporter / audience journey
– For Greenpeace, a campaign could be around the ‘day in the life of a campaigner’, to inspire people to volunteer

3. Keep it simple and easy to deliver
– The more time spent crafting it, the harder it is to accept failure
– In other words, better to jump on something today that feels right, than spend weeks perfecting, to paraphrase the words of Lord Patton!

If your looking for your next big idea, build the messaging around what makes your offering unique, the thing that nobody else can do and make this work for your supporter base. This will deliver the awareness and engagement you need.

Read our thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge; Cool idea or skating on thin ice<./a>

5 lessons from the EU campaign

Did we have balanced debate about the EU? With 52% voting to leave, my sense is that we were let down by a lack of information and in certain cases, misinformation. The Government didn’t capitalise on the opportunity to clearly communicate a balanced view – the debate became very polarised around issues of immigration and the economy. The campaign should and could have included the following elements:

  1. A debate including members of the EU parliament
    One of the issues for many was voting for or against a ‘faceless bunch of bureaucrats’.
  2. Local community based discussions
    Events for all to air their thoughts, alongside the bigger Question Time style discussion and TV panel debates, backed by an online forum and portal for further discussion, exchanges of views, would have helped
  3. A published cross party manifesto
    The successes, the areas we could improve on, better case studies about human rights, the environment, freedom of movement and security. But also the everyday cultural issues such as the benefits of town twinning and the freedom to study abroad.
  4. A representation of young people’s views
    There is some evidence that younger folks were much more in favour of staying ‘in’, did we really hear and reflect their voices?
  5. A time-line
    What this means for us over the next year to 18 months – scenario planning.

Being part of the EU I am certain, gave us cleaner and better beaches and drinking water, less air pollution and protected our wildlife. How do you feel about where we go from here, happy, sad or worried – why not let 38 Degrees know in their new survey:

Top ten charity campaigns of 2015

Well done to all those charities who have run bold campaigns in 2015. Not an easy year for the sector with many mergers still on the table, negative stories about about how charities operate in getting their vital funds, the debacle of the Kids Company closing and the Edelman Trust barometer showing trust in charities down 17%.

My top 10 charity campaigns this year are:

Greenpeace Awesome Again

It was good to see Greenpeace’s action in 2014 and mobilising millions to stop the Lego Shell partnership in 2015. Without Greenpeace, life would be much less interesting (and less organisations would be kept in check).

Je Suis Charlie

Not a charity but certainly a cause, I’m sure most would agree the Je Suis Charlie events were a critical response to the threat against the freedom of speech, inspired by the terrible attacks in France on 7th January 2015.

This Girl Can

I loved This Girl Can campaign developed by Sport England as a celebration of active women doing their thing no matter how well they do it or how they look.

Big Issue Baristas

A very innovative and entrepreneurial way to diversify the work homeless people can do, by training them to make and sell cappuccinos – with eight carts in London, I wish it all the best.

Amnesty’s Virtual Reality ‘Aleppo’ Street

It’s tough bringing home your message and this campaign does just that with specially created headsets. It aims to transport people to a Syrian street to show the destructive effects of barrel bombs.

St John’s Ambulance ‘Chokeables’

st johns

A brilliant idea, using regular ‘chokables’ as the main characters, with voice-overs from Johnny Vegas and David Mitchell, adding weight.

The Lord’s Prayer ad (Just Pray)


The Church of England planned to run the spot before showings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, opening on 18 December. As an aside, The Odeon, Cineworld and Vue refused to show The Lord’s Prayer ad . The spot launched the Church of England’s website, which encourages prayer and offers tutorials.

I Saw Your Willy / Share Aware

NSPCC’s great campaign encourages children to think about what they share online; with this campaign they have developed a partnership with 02.

Life-changing Learning


The Open University has captured the strength of mind, effort and reward that comes from studying a part-time degree – a nice brand builder.

Unicef Snapchat of Nigeria

Unicef recruited Snapchat artists to redraw the pictures made by some of the 800,000 children forced to flee their homes in Nigeria, as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the horrific impact of the Boko Haram crisis on Nigerian children.

These charity campaigns are all brave and ambitious – but more importantly speak to us in a straightforward language, and in my view, increase the perceived value of the charities’ role on the issues. I believe they have every chance of driving new supporters and partnerships.

Wishing you all a great Christmas and New Year.

Giles Robertson, Director of Green Banana Marketing Ltd and independent Marketing Consultant, Marketing Society Fellow, Board Member, Marine Conservation Society

Follow him on twitter @gogreenbanana and Linkedin or email at

Five questions to ask of your blockbuster charity film

It’s time to make that all defining film about your charity (or yourself?). The problem is, where do you start? Your content list runs to ten minutes and your main spokesperson sounds like Kevin Spacey at the end of his tether in American Beauty, which is not going to win you new support.

We’ve just made a great promo film about Green Banana Marketing with sister company, Five on a Bike. Four edits later and we were very happy with the results. That’s not bad for a 7-year-old company with dozens of client projects – we’ve seen some films go into double digit edits. Here are my six questions for you to consider, which helped keep me on track and to fewer edits:

Do you have an idea of what you want to say?

It’s great to consider what your key messages are right up front. The really hard job is being tough on what you’d like to show to which audience. Try and list the two or three take-outs you’d like to have from the film. For us, it was showing the value we could bring to people’s work through the story of our projects.Image from edit suite of Green Banana Marketing film

Are you are clear who it is for?

Showing what you do to a group of school kids is very different to presenting to the senior board at Santander. There may be similarities, but I imagine it’s two difference audiences with different needs. Businesses like to see your flair, the impacts of your work and what a likely partnership will deliver. And school kids are no different; they want to be inspired and see how things have changed because of your work. Sometimes explaining the basics of what you do, can be a great start. I remember in one presentation with my Marine Conservation Society trustee hat on, one speaker outlined all that they did related to marine biology, and at the end of the session, the first question was ‘what does a marine biologist do?” Oh dear. For us at Green Banana Marketing, we hoped to speak directly to Marketing Directors of development, fair trade, health, conservation and human rights charities.

What are you hoping as a result of the film?

Is your film a shortcut way of introducing what you do? Or is it an “ask” to show what more could be done with some extra resource? Two very different scenarios –again if this is done right, it can pay dividends. I know one corporate partner film, which allegedly paid for itself within the first six months for a development charity.

How is your brand featured?

Introducing the feel of your organisation throughout is a real art, whether it’s your logo on runners vests doing the Marathon, or campaigning pledges reaching their target, it helps to weave your brand into the story. And of course, do start and end your film with your brand and your mission and finish with a ‘view’ of your vision and your ask for the future.See how the storyboard for Salix / Department for Education compares to final film

Will you do an overview of all your work or slice through one area?

Images do speak a thousand words, but sometimes you forget, if images are not explained with a simple title e.g. “Fracking protest outside Chequers”, they can be abstract and rather off putting.  Start by writing down all the content you think should be in the film, it will end up being enough content for The Godfather part 1 and 2. But never mind, it’s a start.  It’s easier to explain a problem through a story; how your organisation was the hero who overcame the villain, the approach it took and the style of how it works. Telling your story through one person’s perspective always helps. You forget how complex your organisation is and people can really only take in a handful of messages at a time. Mario’s personal battle with cancer and the support he got from Macmillan Cancer Support hits me hard in this film and I get exactly what he went through, what the charity did for him – even within this small focus of their work. Do take the leap and make a film about your charity work – answer the hard questions first and you’ll save time as well as money on the editing floor. And of course, we could help make it very good for you.

Shortcuts Stand out from the crowd – need to know brand and marketing essentials


Your invitation to Green Banana Marketing’s next Shortcuts event
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Shortcuts Series

Standout from the crowd – need to know brand and marketing essentials

Free Shortcuts seminar – Tuesday 10th September 2015 9 – 10am

Green Banana Marketing invite you to their free Charity Shortcuts seminar on Tuesday 10 September 2015 at 9am.

Charities need good marketing more than ever – with great pressures to gain new supporters (and more charities to standout from), building your appeal and what you stand for is essential.

Having a strong brand and marketing focus has never mattered more.

This innovative hours workshop will change the way you think about marketing and leave you bursting with ideas on how to build your brand personality, standout from the crowd and attract new supporters to your organisation.

Previous delegates said of the seminar; “very useful and inspiring – the fundamentals of marketing”

We would very much like to see you and a colleague at this Free Shortcuts seminar on Tuesday 10th September 2015 at 9am for one hour at the O2 Workshop, 229 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T7QG.

Places are limited to 20, so please do click here now to subscribe and book your free place.

‘Shortcuts’ seminars are intended to give you the most important information in the one-hour session. Drinks, cakes and a friendly networking session will follow the seminar. 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Kind regards,

Follow us on Twitter
Visit our website
Date: 10th September 2015Time:

9 – 10 am


02 Workshop

229 Tottenham Court Rd


Green Banana Marketing shortcut seminar




10 tips to maximise growth through your website

Many of the social organisations we work with are going through huge changes, using their “ten year strategy” to answer the question “what would a digitally-enabled organisation look like?” and “how will we thrive in an increasingly digital world?”. These are perfect questions to help shape the future and current offering and the following related questions helped us in working through our recent projects with the Fairtrade Foundation and The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

blog photo 1blog photo 2   blog photo 3

Mapping the user experience and developing wireframe and related colour schemes for the navigation

1.What’s not working well at the moment? Where are audiences dropping off / not going – why is this?

2.What are your analytics telling you? Do you understand the audience needs and do these change by age / other demographics? Why is that? Do you know how people are using your site?

3.Are you ready for Mobilegeddon? Do start the process of ensuring your site works on different devices from interactive white screen to phones. You probably already know that Google’s search ranking will be affected by how mobile friendly your site it. There is an easy mobile friendly test you can do.

blog photo FT mobile

The mobile experience for teachers using Fairtrade resources

4.Is your SEO / social strategy good enough? Read Google’s guide to SEO, again Google will look harshly at copy that is too small and links that go nowhere. Defining your strategy beforehand (starting with the web copy), will help you prioritise what your main services are.

5. Do you have a strong concept / design? People like ideas- a strong concept can really lift your site usage.

6.Do you have the right sign-up points? Getting the balance right is essential; too many and people will click off your site. Having the main touch points clearly labelled will increase conversion to sales, and to your newsletter sign up.

picture blog news

Clear and interesting sign up points help the user

7.Why not ask people what they would like to use the site for in the future? Regular users of your site will often have as good ideas as anyone for how the experience could be made even better, we’ve found tapping this interest and using some of their ideas is crucial.

8.Are you using it as a living / agile website? Agile roll-outs are best. Too often the process is to map the user experience to a wireframe and then build the site over 10-16 weeks, which is fine. But it’s better to keep the site alive and agile, adding new features and functionality, so the site has a beginning but no end. There is no web 2.2.

9.Are you linking your CRM to your website? You increase conversion to your site by as much as 50% from users on your social channels, by a few simple campaigns.

10.Are you making lots of new friends? We’ve found links to your site from other respected organisations work wonders for new site visitors and increased search ranking.

If you need help with your web delivery, these are the first questions we would ask, it’s an easy checklist, which starts with your audience and builds things in an agile but logical way.

Giles Robertson, Founder and Managing Director of Green Banana Marketing Ltd, Marketing Soc. and RSA Fellow, Charity Group chairman, Trustee of Marine Conservation Society, member of 2Degrees board of advisers and the Sustainability Growth Group. Follow him on twitter @gogreenbanana or email at

Green Banana Marketing news 10th June 2015 – Our successes



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Green Banana Marketing news 10th June 2015

Video of the month

Social films have impact

We produced Trouble for Spark Young Filmmakers competition,  which has been entered into film festivals, the client said ”GBM brought creative energy and ideas that helped us maximise the impact of the programme”. Spark is a charity dedicated to changing young people’s lives.

Green&Charity News

Charity sector creative leaders

Highlighting great new charity campaigns in our monthly blog
Acquire the knowledge

Marketing/Event news

Fairtrade Schools launch

We successfully launched FT schools site, with 1,000s of teachers downloading
Building a fair world

Send all our leaders on the London Marathon

Beach body photo blog

What’s not to like about the London Marathon? It’s welcoming – whether you are one of the 750,000 spectators, watching it on TV or more importantly one of the 38,000 people taking part. It’s pure joy, celebration and carnival– preceded by pain and I guess sometimes despair. What makes the London Marathon brand so special is the following:

  1. we all know somebody who was running
  2. the amazing sense achievement, of giving and taking part
  3. the sense of fun and nothing is impossible or is judged to be ridiculous. The most eccentric charity runner was probably Lloyd Scott who took five days to complete the course wearing a deep-sea diving suit. And no doubt ushered in new regulations for the marathon, which state that the race must be completed in one day
  4. the fact that this is one of the biggest fundraisers, during the last 30 years runners have made more than £500m for various charities

We were also all swept up by 2012 London Olympics and the amazing Gamemakers who really made their mark. Now contrast that with the lead up to the general election – the biggest event we were not really invited to be part of – in the weeks leading up to 7th May.   We’ve not been involved in a conversation with the general election. The environment, sport and health have been little discussed. The Green party lost out, by playing down discussions about green issues, to demonstrate a broader understanding of other policy areas.

There has been very little discussion about sport, health and well being; tackling obesity and getting people back into sports. I applaud the This Girl Can campaign and what Dove has tried to do by normalising every day body shapes. But all this seems to have been given the two fingers by the most pointless and shallow ad of our time; an ad for a weight loss drink and beach perfect bodies.

Thank goodness for two bloggers Tara Costello and Fiona Longmuir, pictured, who posed next to the ad, rightly saying they are beach ready.

I want an election a bit like the London Marathon, where;

  1. we know somebody who is running and want to support them
  2. we feel involved
  3. our differences are celebrated
  4. the health of our bodies and the planet are central to the thinking

Poldark’s charity is a funder’s dream

I wonder, if like me, you have been inspired by Ross Poldark, in the BBC1’s 70s remake, which has been watched by nearly 7 million viewers, based on Winston Graham’s Poldark books from the 1940s and 1950s.
poldark 1Set in the 18th century, the main character, Ross Poldark, a British Army officer, returns to his home in Cornwall from the American Revolutionary War only to find that his fiancée, Elizabeth, having believed him dead, is about to marry his cousin, Francis Poldark. Ross attempts to restore his own fortunes by reopening one of the family’s tin mines. After several years he marries his servant girl, and is gradually reconciled to the loss of Elizabeth’s love.

There is plenty to enjoy – at its heart, a story of determination and doing the right thing. Poldark’s physique has been much debated, but it’s his approach, which we think throws up some great analogies for charities wanting to stay true to their beliefs and be true leaders. And they are;

1. At his core is a powerful belief in philanthropy, which comes through every pore

2. He has a vision – turning his new tin mine into a success- which he relentless pursues

3. He doesn’t let short term set backs take him of course, but knows when to call in extra help

4. He knows how to lead people with his vision – of finding tin

5. He understands what it takes to inspire people with words as well as actions

6. He’s keenly aware of how to inspire funders

7. He knows how to gain their continued support, and when to give updates on the progress that has been made

8. He’s happy to go out on a limb for what he believes in – in work and in love, however out of kilter and out of fashion this might be with his immediate circle

9. He leads by example and is consistent to his word

10. Despite much adoration, he is humble, welcoming and a genuinely consistent all round nice guy.

Can Ross Poldark do no wrong?


Spring 2015 – ten tips for charity marketing growth


Spring is here!


I wanted to write a quick checklist of some of things we’ve been asked to look at with our charity clients, many of whom are consolidating what they are doing with their marketing this year. It doesn’t matter if you are halfway through or at the beginning of your planning cycle, why not run-through this check list?

1. Define where you think the majority of your supporters are on the ‘supporter journey’- take a day out to review where each audience is

2. Challenge your team to generate one piece of comms a month that defines what your cause stands for (and has an insight that only you could use). Maybe that’s where this Halloween inspired idea came from for Doctors of the World?

3. Define the role of your social media and prune channels that’s aren’t working. Who are they for and are they adding any value? Who is responsible for them? Are they reflective of how people interact with you – on ‘broadcast’ or ‘listen’ mode?

4. Celebrate your work and thank your supporters, explain how you spent their money. Here’s a great example from Greenpeace2014 was BIG. Let’s make 2015 even bigger!

5. Run a competition with your supporters for better ways to engage with them. Help for Heroes have amassed a whole A- Z of ideas

6. Why not do a placement at one of your partners, maybe even better do a job swap with say P&G marketing

7. Help find new comms professionals for your Board of Trustees by drawing up a short list of new skills you need (go and meet them and get their advice). Look at WWF, they have a digital expert

8. Make your Trustee board quarterly reporting a useful part of the team reporting process, rather than an add on

9. Look for new commercial opportunities for your charity brand

10. Make sure you write up case studies of all your campaigns and partnership work and get it on your website  (and enter awards)

I do hope you have a good year and please do make the most of it!

flowering plum tree branch


My Charlie Experience: imprinted for a lifetime

my charlie experience

This is about you and me

It’s rare for Green Banana Marketing employees to speak about themselves but we all have some things that we are proud of. Today it is my turn. Julie Heyraud, Account exec. for almost 2 years and French! At Green Banana Marketing I have learnt many things about charities and become aware of all the world’s atrocities through our clients’ work. I’m proud to be part of these projects, to create a ‘better world’.

Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber Trafalgar Square 08/01/15 Benjamin Ellin

Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber Trafalgar Square 08/01/15 Benjamin Ellin

As you would expect at GBM, we believe everyone should be able to express their own opinions as long as they do not harm others. We are free to talk about politics, religion, cooking!  We like to question, to communicate and discuss green and fair issues.

Last month on the 7th of January, a terrible event touched my country, France, and attacked one of the most important values of our democracy. Twelve people working for Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, were killed in Paris at their offices. Twelve people like you and I with different religions, beliefs, lives, problems… You may not have heard of the magazine Charlie before, but for context, this publication has always been criticised for its controversial caricatures, which sometimes seems offensive to some. The magazine’s motivation was to be free to publish what they wanted. And this is what they did, which often resulted in death
Worried about the threat to freedom of speech we have defended for so long, two of my friends and I went straight into the organisation of an unexpected major peaceful demonstration, London’s ‘Je suis Charlie’. On the 7th January more than 1,000 people gathered within three hours in Trafalgar Square, on the 8th we organised a concert which was meant to unite eight musicians but ended up with 150 of the finest classical UK musicians, again, at the same place. On Sunday 11th more than 4,000 people came to Trafalgar Square and on our social page, we gained many photos and comments and Messieurs Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson visited Trafalgar Square as well as Madame Bernman, the French ambassador in the UK.

What does Charlie Hebdo represent?

01-1012.qxp“Charlie” the new Diderot?

I would not go so far. French society has always been recognised, hated and loved for its freedom of speech. This part of any democracy’s foundation has been threatened last month. Charlie Hebdo and its team always worked hard to protect it. Terrorists, who act like this, thankfully are very rare.

The only thing we know is that Charlie decided to publish their ideas, continuing the tradition of joking at everything. Despite that freedom, only 60,000 newspapers were published each week and there were rumours saying that the company was facing financial difficulties.

A very small readership to be any real threat to whoever organised this attack. Clearly, this attack was planned to deliver some kind of message.

Did it work? It only works if you allow it to work.


What happened then?

07.01.15 TrafI had to do something to protect freedom of speech!

Marketing for charities is always fascinating but as we have seen in the past with the Ice bucket challenge, The Teenage Cancer Trust and Stephen Sutton, supporters campaigning on behalf of causes is always more effective; ‘people power’. Driven by passion, personal experience, they are able to move mountains (and be very convincing).

I recognised their feelings when I was in this situation. Those who believe in something want to defend it.

Driven by this passion and the preservation of freedom of speech, I rushed into organising these events.

Organising an event, is to deal with all the unexpected elements. But luckily these ones were very peaceful, uniting people with the same values.

What will happen in the future?

Dessins-hommages-a-Charlie-Hebdo-Philippe-Geluk_max1024x768Professionally, I can confirm the theory, demonstrating the power of supporters and the power of a nation defending their beliefs and values. All actions were in response to 7th of January, they were not only condemning the death of twelve or more people but were defending something much more important, – human rights. Defending, protecting and spreading these values of democracy, people also wish to save others like in Nigeria for example.

Some positives learning have come to me in terms of communication. It was a really good unplanned experience. The power of supporters, the use of social channels like Facebook, the power of online word-of-mouth and the credibility of some personalities, reinforcing your communication (like an embassy).

This experience has shown me that people still value some things; they are still touched and are ready to stand up for what they believe. Here’s a little secret for you, the reader: I am even more convinced about and proud to work with and for charities and charitable causes.

As the Article 19 of the Human Rights declaration states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

As you are. And that is the biggest point.

tout est pardonné

Julie Heyraud ‘Je suis Charlie’

Our next shortcut event improve your website



Shortcuts Series

Gain more support through your website


Free Shortcuts seminar  – Friday 13 March 2015  4pm – 5pm
Green Banana Marketing invite you to their free Shortcuts seminar on Friday 13 March 2015 at 4pm. Come along and hear tips on how to maximise your website and gain more support for your cause, making the most of your online presence through good design, SEO and meta tagging, with examples from British Council, British Trust for Ornithology and Buglife….


Previous delegates said of the seminar; “very useful and inspiring – the fundamentals of marketing” 
Aimed at those responsible for building support online,  you will come away with an understanding of: 

•  The fundamentals of great website design, appropriate for your audience

•  Ten tips to maximise your website to ensure it is adding value

•  Online tools and techniques, such as SEO and meta tagging, from recent case studies

•  How to address issues and concerns you may have with your online work

We would very much like to see you and a colleague at this Free Shortcuts seminar on Friday 13th March 2015 at 4pm for one hour at 229 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T7QG.
Places are limited to 20, so please do click here now to subscribe and book your free place.
‘Shortcuts’ seminars are intended to give you the most important information in the one-hour session. Drinks, cakes and a friendly networking session will follow the seminar. 
We look forward to seeing you there!
Kind regards,
Follow us on Twitter
Visit our website
Date: 13th March 2015Time: 4 – 5 pmLocation: 02 Workshop229 Tottenham Court RdLondon

Green Banana Marketing shortcut seminar

The very best charity marketing from 2014

The very best charity marketing from 2014

With so many amazing campaigns, it’s tough selecting the most innovative charity ads of the year. This is encouraging for the charity sector, even though it’s harder and harder for normal people to navigate through the various causes and lend their support.

Charities (and I guess their marketing agencies), have long understood that creating some kind of fame often increases share of mind and this hopefully leads to more support. Charities are often challenged by gaining the resources to support a new campaign. A strong business case helps, and entering the campaign into charity awards can fast track this. The campaign gets profiled in the brochure, 500 marketing folk hear about the charity and better still, if it wins, then profile pieces will be written. The charity may even become the agency’s charity of the year.

First up: NSPCC: ‘The underwear rule’

The underwear rule is a fantastic insight. It is a campaign devised by the NSPCC that provides a simple way to help parents keep their children safe from abuse. It’s simple for both parents and children to understand. This film perfectly captures the right tone and call to action. Well done to NSPCC.

Second place: CRUK ‘Play to cure’

What a great excuse to play a good game, when at the same time you’re helping Cancer Research UK’s scientists identify the DNA faults that could lead to cancer. Well done CRUK – lateral thinking at its best.

Third: Greenpeace ‘Tell Lego to dump Shell’

It’s good to see Greenpeace in action (and succeeding in stopping the Lego Shell partnership!)  Keep up the great campaigning work. Without Greenpeace, life would be much less interesting (and less organisations would be kept in check).

Fourth: Barnardo’s ‘The Nation’s Fridge Door’

Just love Barnardo’s virtual fridge, based on the idea that we all like to share our children’s pictures of robins and pirates, but not all children have parents who care. In every family’s household the fridge door is a symbol of a parent’s pride and support of their children’s achievements. Yet the UK’s most vulnerable children don’t have anyone to give them this support or record their successes.

That’s why Barnardo’s is asking people to turn the support they give their own children into the support for the children who have nobody. The drawings sent in by families were published on their virtual fridge, and a selected few were published in The Guardian and in Barnardo’s stores.

Fifth: Breast Cancer Awareness ‘Fitness Bra Cam’

Breast Cancer Awareness have done so much to change the tone of the issue – brightening it up and making it more accessible. This campaign is a perfect example of this.  In partnership with big companies, who helped them deliver a truly funny (and slightly awkward!) entrapment film!

Some new fame is worth having and these are great examples of charities taking risks but keeping their cause at the heart of the delivery. Well done to all and Happy New Year 2015.


Happy Christmas from Green Banana Marketing

GBM Christmas card 2014

Cool Idea or Skating on thin Ice? Five lessons for IBC ii

ice bucket key figures

You’ve heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral in June but have you heard of Aymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease? ALS is a motor neuron disease that attacks the nerves in the spinal cord and brain.

ALS is the most common motor neurone disease, which often starts to show signs at the age of 60. There are an average of two deaths per 100,000 people each year in the UK alone and survival from onset of the disease is 3-4 years.

A pretty convincing case for support, which the Ice Bucket Challenge, that originated in the US, aimed to raise awareness and money for this disease,
but how efficient has it been?

The craze caught on with 2.4 million videos related to the ‘IBC’ on Facebook this summer, and a further 28 million people joining the conversation (either in likes, comments or posts) between June 1st and September 30th. ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ was in the news on average 78 times per day and trending by the end of August; there were more Google searches for this than for all of the searches for ‘Gaza’, ‘Ferguson’ or ‘Iraq’.

Perhaps it was a good antidote to the Malaysian airline tragedy, Ebola virus outbreak, the continued fight against ISIS, and not to mention the passing of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers! But has the feel good factor of taking part been helping charities? MNDA, the Motor Neurone Disease Association (the charity most strongly associated with ALS in the UK), has raised £7m from ice bucket donations, a sum worthy of a half seconds soaking on a warm summer’s day.

But in the context of other previous charity challenges, did ‘IBC’ actually deliver? The ‘no makeup selfie’ for CRUK raised over £8m in just 6 days and ‘Movember 2013’ raised a whopping £20.4m in just one month. Both of these suggest that the ‘IBC’ should have raised significantly more in four months of intensive activity with an estimated 20 million people taking part.

Ice bucket vs Movember© Green Banana Marketing
Number of people involved in Ice bucket challenge and Movember per country (‘000)

The craze is already beginning to freeze over!

How many of the IBC videos actually resulted in donations? The Charities Aid Foundation estimated of the 1 in 6 Britons that have taken part so far, only 1 in 10 have actually donated to a charity. This rings true, for the 20 million who took part, if each donated £1, the total raised would be nearer £20 million.

Thoroughly entertained, but the bottom line is that most of the videos didn’t result in giving to a good cause. And there have been environmental challenges about the amount of water used in the IBCs, particularly the one involving 40,000 litres from a dumper truck.

Overall, the IBC could have been more productive and we think:
1. Although substantial amounts were raised for and MNDA, it is disproportionate to the number of people taking part

2. Clarity should have been given around the fundraising mechanic, as many people were confused about what to do

3. A simple branding device might well have helped the participants on either side of the challenge! Also, if the IBC had been a more successful fundraising magnet for ALS, a better-branded mechanic would have drawn less income from other charities, what William MacAskill, Vice President of Giving What We Can, calls ‘funding cannibalism’

4. The campaign has raised awareness for ‘ALS’, but not as much for Aymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis disease – next time participants would benefit from a progress report and a brief summary of the actions taken as a result of their involvement

5. From an environmental point of view, the campaign mechanics could have involved Water Aid, who themselves raised considerable funds on the back of the challenge. Water Aid raised £47,000 in one day – which is 50% higher than it has ever received in a single day before). The should have been a good well thought through partnership, involving other charities as well as, perhaps a utility company.

There are more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to fundraise than the Ice Bucket Challenge; it is definitely fun to watch but may be more of a damp squib than the cool enterprise we first thought. A bit more careful thought at the beginning could have quadruple the income raised for Aymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and made a real difference. Will IBC ii be back next Summer – we certainly hope so.

Ice bucket essential danate

The optimism of action


It was back in 2005 that I launched the Marketing Society not-for-profit group – a small thought leadership group for charity marketing folk. The Marketing Society backed the new group and have been stellar supporters ever since of charity and cause related marketing. Little did I know then that the Society would honour me with a Fellowship all these years later. I have admired previous Fellows, and secretly each year at the ceremony, wondered how they managed to achieve their awards…

Receiving the award was a good moment to reflect on the charity sector and the work we’ve done. Above all else, the thing that stands out most is the real passion people in those organisations have for their causes and for making a difference. This, to coin the words of Greenpeace, has often meant “stopping wrongs”, which is not a bad thing to say about your day job!

A redefined Marketing Society vision is also more hands-on and about making a difference in your work; “inspiring bolder leadership” including the work to support sustainability and good causes.

Charities have also taken a long hard look at their visions to meet the needs of today’s demanding supporters who want more transparency and greater action. Macmillan are about supporting and being there for the journey with cancer, Oxfam are about changing lives for the better – lifting people out of poverty. Charities have become more action oriented around fewer issues, which is a good thing. Passion and leadership doesn’t have to come from the global North.  Companies like Unilever with their 5 Levers for change and the Fairtrade Foundation, addressing sustainability and poverty, have found that people care as deeply about sustainability in emerging markets such as China and Brazil, and these countries now bring great leadership and inspiration to the table.

And organisations like Amnesty have relocated their resources to be closer to where human rights abuses are happening.  There is no point in standing on the edge of the issue. I remember Blake Lee-Harwood at one event, Greenpeace’s then Director of Campaigns, telling us how Greenpeace ‘practiced what they preached’. Still guided by the words of one of the early founders, Harald Zindler – “the optimism of the action is better than the pessimism of the thought”. Today all members of Greenpeace staff are expected to ‘stop a wrong’ or to try and ‘replace it with a right’. It is simplicity and passion at work. Take their fight against Lego partnering with Shell, who are battling to dig up the Artic, and you see the same approach at work. Seb Coe talked about his role in bringing the Olympic games to Africa, one of his stated dreams, at a Marketing Society hosted evening. His vision is to make health and sport a part of everyone’s life and normalise disability in sport. I hope that the Marketing Society continue to play a pivotal role in inspiring people to see optimism and opportunity in life changing action.

Marketing Excellence – Green Banana Marketing’s free shortcuts event!


Your invitation to Green Banana Marketing’s next Shortcuts event
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Shortcuts Series

Marketing Excellence Case Studies


Marketing Excellence Case Studies – Free Shortcuts seminar

Green Banana Marketing’s second free Shortcuts seminar of 2014. Step inside the agency world, learn how to create case studies, build campaigns and communicate with your audience, with examples from Fairtrade, Spark and Bats.

Aimed at those working for charities and wishing for an overview of Marketing and where case studies can add value. Previous delegates said of the seminar; “very useful and inspiring – the fundamentals of marketing”

You and a colleague are invited to our second Free Shortcuts marketing seminar for this year on Friday 19th September 2014 at 4pm for one hour at 229 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T7QG.

You will come away understanding:       
•  The fundamentals of a great charity campaign
•  What value a marketing case study can add to a charity’s approach

Places are limited to 20, so please click here to subscribe and book your free place now.
‘Shortcuts’ seminars are intended to give you the most important information in the one-hour session. Drinks, cakes and a friendly chatty session will follow it. 

We look forward to seeing you there!
Kind regards,

Green Banana

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Date: 19th September 2014Time: 4 – 5 pm


02 Workshop

229 Tottenham Court Rd


Green Banana Marketing shortcut seminar



5 ideas to help charities and the environment over the summer

things to do in august


As charity experts we care about our surroundings and the environment, even when we go on summer holidays! And we always like to learn. Some of us have children, like Giles our managing director, and others not, like myself.

There are many things we can do on holiday, here‘s a list of the things we can do during our holidays, wherever we go to the beach, up a mountain or stay at home:

1. Giles cycles every morning to work, why not leave your car at home and cycle instead? Save 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide for each mile and 240 calories saved (or lost!) per hour. This is a good way to work off all the extra ice cream you eat this summer! As our friends at cycle for summer say you ‘Feel Happier: it is scientifically proven’

2. There are plenty of delicious locally produced fruits and vegetables available this summer. Choose to eat local fruits instead of kiwis and mangos from far-flung exotic countries. The Sustainable Food Trust shows you why it is cheaper, better and how it reveals the type of person you are.

3. If you stay at home for your holidays and decide to have a good house tidy, why not give unwanted clothes, toys or furniture to charities you would like to help. We like clothes for charity who do all the hard work for you, selling your items to raise money for your selected causes and charities.

4. Discover and protect Bugs. As our friends at Buglife describe so well, many things can be done to protect bugs.  Why not build a bee house? You can follow Buglife’s tutorial here and enjoy building a bee house in your garden, it’s lots of fun, and you can observe the bees all year around.

5. If you are healthy and want to feel even healthier, why not donate your blood to NHSBT? Start this Summer and give blood 3 or 4 times a year. My advice: have a big breakfast, give blood and then enjoy a treat, have some crisps or chocolate and a delicious lunch at a restaurant with a friend, who came along with you of course!

Five little things you could do to help charities and the environment. Why not, try at least one thing this Summer, which would help us and our clients too.

There are many ways to give your time, energy and happiness, strength and of course money.  And if you have children, why not start the National Trust’s ‘50 things to do before they’re 11 ¾’, enjoy every moment, as they grow up so fast.

Let us know what you do during your holidays. We would love to see your photos and to improve our knowledge of ways in which we can help charities and the environment.

Whatever you do – we wish you the very best summer 2014!


happy holidays

Guanyin listening to the world

The figGuanyin listening to the worldure of Guanyin (short for ‘he who listens to the cries of the world’), chose to stay on earth to help others achieve Buddhahood. It was popularised in AD 550 during the Northern Qi dynasty.

I had a chance encounter with him in The British Museum, quite an easy thing to do with over 8 million objects. This figure got me thinking about how the Internet of Things (IoT) has helped revolutionise marketing for good. The next step we are working on is to create opportunities for people where imagination is free-flow and charities’ work is supported by just thinking about the issues involved.

Charity brands increasingly connect to online communities; in times of crisis and conflict, news can touch people very fast and anywhere, which can be very effective. In many cases this is delivering the charity mission far more effectively.  Back to my chance encounter with Guanyin; we are fascinated by the idea of ‘listening to the cries of the world’ and making this a central part of the IoT.

Supposedly Kevin Ashton invented the IoT, the idea is to be as close to people’s needs and even to anticipate their needs. Equipping objects with identifiers with the ability to transfer data over a network without having the human to human or to computer interaction has so many fascinating social potential. An early precursor was a Coke machine in the early 1980s; programmers connected to the machine over the Internet, checked the status of the machine to determine whether or not there would be a cold drink awaiting them, should they decide to make the trip down to the machine.

There is a world of possibilities with the different platforms. Everyone wants their own community such as Nike’s Community, which goes way beyond selling ‘runners’

The IoT should lead to greater knowledge of audiences, with less wasteful research, qualifying people’s needs. It can also be good for the environment too; British Gas’s Hive app demonstrated this, controlling your thermostat when you are not there.

Explaining how we minimise the threat to the environment or social impacts, as we order our new car, milk bottle or can of Coke is what we have been developing.

Our thinking is also how we ensure ‘imagination’ is maintained and enhanced in this incredible future – not lost by pursing needs based approaches, which we think is the crux of the matter for our clients.

How we harness the power of imagination in our relationship with supporters, Guanyin’s ‘listening to the cries of the world’, is our starting point for this great future, balancing relationship building with effective resource use.


Revisit Marketing essentials

Shortcut seminar by Green Banana Marketing on ‘Marketing essentials’ 16/05/2014

Shortcut seminar by Green Banana Marketing on ‘Marketing essentials’ 16/05/2014

Green Banana Marketing’s top tips for charity marketing

Is it any easier to define what we mean by marketing for charities and NGOs? With squeezed budgets and complicated stakeholder needs, I sometimes wonder. If marketing for a charity is “to achieve organisational objectives and to bring the appropriate number of people from the agreed groups to engage and respond in a way that mutually satisfies both parties”, it’s surprising how few know their own organisational objectives, an obvious starting point for effective marketing. Fortunately, more know their own objectives and how these support the charity vision.

For today’s charities, innovation is important and effective, standout marketing. How to leverage digital touch points and to build long-term corporate partnerships with a solid shared strategic core, are also day-to-day worries.

Charity cmarketing-mixomms departments change names at a dizzying speed; from Marcomms, Supporter Engagement to Marketing, Fundraising as standalone to a merged super unit around a common digital belief! 65 years on and James “marketing mix” Culliton will be turning in his grave. He described the combination of elements involved in making any marketing decision; more commonly called the 4 ps of marketing, which have stood the test of time, it’s worth revisiting some of our vast history of marketing and how we fit in! Product, Promotion, Place and Price. And later 3 more Ps were added; People, Physical evidence and Process.

Charities deliver a staggering amount for very little resource but sometimes lack focus. Multi-million pound corporate campaigns tend to work to a much tighter bandwidth, such as changing sales by 5% with a specific audience segment.

NGOs tend to know their brands better than their audiences. Segmenting audiences, by identifying the most receptive moments to engage with people and mapping out user journeys would be a critical part to improving supporters and the charities focus.

We’re delighted that four of the ten most effective UK charities cited in the recent ‘Passionate About Collaboration’ report, which identified the UK’s most effective NGOs, are our clients, based on responses from over 100 NGO Chief Executives. Our approach chimes with the report’s main conclusions, which is to be more effective with reach and impact.

We are lucky enough to have worked with some of the very best marketing teams in the charity world from Fairtrade to Buglife – this we believe comes from a love of their organisation and a belief in what they can do.

Marketing Energy

Ever since Prometheus gave the gift of fire, energy has transformed the way we live. Burning fires gave us the means to cook our food, heat our homes, transport our goods and provided us with light and entertainment.

image 1

The Fires are about to go out and our other options are challenging; the dash to gas has suddenly got more expensive as our local supplies diminish (and surely mining shale gas will interfere with the planet’s subterranean structures?) and coal emits far too much climate changing carbon dioxide.

And don’t forget, some European countries are using as much as 80% of Russian gas, making them far too dependent on Russia.

Threatened with blackout by 2015, what are our options?


Have Energy Days

Energy Days are being arranged throughout Europe in the month of June – part of the solution is to reduce our dependence on electricity. Therefore, by choosing to modify an every day activity, we challenge ourselves to think differently about our energy usage, such as:

  • Going gadget free
  • Going plastic free for a week – that’s indirectly reducing your dependency on oil
  • Using the stairs, the bus, the bike
  • Drinking cold drinks
  • Playing board games
  • Enjoying live music, outdoor theatre, galleries and your local pub

Measure how much electricity you save, how much money you save and how much better you feel.  You should be healthier and wealthier.

Set ambitious UK targets for our tidal power

image 2The US has, surprisingly, some interesting targets, California aims to have no non-renewable energy in use by 2020.  Texas, the once mighty oil state, is set to become the world’s 5th largest supplier of wind energy.  India is to build the world’s largest solar plant to generate 4,000 mw from sunlight near the Sambhar lake in Rajasthan.  Let’s set some ambitious UK targets. Out of the twenty sites identified worldwide suitable for tidal power, eight of these are in the UK and could supply 20% of our energy requirements. Tidal Energy encourages state investment to finance tidal power schemes, until they move into surplus and when are likely to provide a profit for an indefinite period.


image 3Innovation needs encouragement
The new Catapult UK technology centres are a great place for innovative companies and individuals to develop their ideas.  We need more of these so that renewable energy can be explored and reach it’s full potential.  Waiting in the wings are solutions such as, cleaner coal stations, microgeneration and  community energy suppliers of CHP, PV & Solar.



Pedal your own power or Plug on your window – what a great idea.

The socket offers a neat way to harness solar energy and use it as a plug socket. We’ve not seen any as direct as this plug-in.

image 5

So the future is an energy mix, a mix of consumer demand and different types of energy.

Wind, Solar, Sea have always been at our disposal, think of windmills and watermills grinding corn, and new innovative versions, which could replace our dependence on fossil fuels (but without emitting destructive CO2).

Live Smarter. Greener. Fairer.

Marketing Essentials – Green Banana Marketing’s free shortcuts event!


Your invitation to Green Banana Marketing’s next Shortcuts event

Shortcuts Series

Marketing Essentials

Marketing Essentials – Green Banana Marketing’s first free Shortcuts seminar of 2014. Aimed at those wishing to brush up on their marketing,  an introduction or refresher of the marketing mix to make sure you’re focusing on the right areas.  Ideal for marketers, project managers, managers, events organisers and those new to marketing,  new to the sector or maybe you have a job that has expanded from PR or sales to include  “marketing”.

You and a colleague are invited to our first Free Shortcuts marketing seminar for this year on Friday 16th May 2014 at 4pm for one hour at 229 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T7QG.

A previous delegate said of the seminar; “very useful and inspiring – the basics and fundamentals of marketing”

You will come away understanding:

•    The marketing mix, and tools that help marketers communicate successfully, and how to use them in your organisation

•    Your target market and how to reach them

•    Creating compelling marketing messages and objectives

•    Developing a marketing plan for your organisation – which channels to use from social to promotion

•    How other campaigns have achieved this from Greenpeace’s Saving the Arctic to Buglife’s campaign

Places are limited to 20, so please click here to subscribe and book your free place now.

‘Shortcuts’ seminars are intended to give you the most important information in the one-hour session. It will be followed by drinks, cakes and a friendly and chatty session.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Kind regards,

Green Banana

Follow us on Twitter
Visit our website
Date: 16th May 2014Time: 4:00 – 5:00pmLocation: 02 Workshop

229 Tottenham Court Rd





Do blockbuster charity ads communicate the mission?

Blog GBM Blog Do blockbuster charity ads communicate the mission? image


Four new mega charity TV ads have come out in the last few weeks. Save the Children, Barnardo’s, Age UK and Macmillan. It’s a tough time for most charities but these four look well funded.

 But do they deliver and communicate the mission? Which is often tough as most charities deliver their mission through policy work. Let’s find out.

“If London was Syria” for Save the Children, with Natasha Kaplinsky, is all about the effects of war with the line ‘just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening”. Coinciding with three years after the Syria Crisis began (yes three years!), this is bang on Save the Children’s mission, about saving children’s lives, helping when disasters strike and giving them the best start. My only beef, the idea of wars in your backyard was done better in a Costwolds village scene in Unwatchable, a story about conflict minerals in Congo.

Next up is Barnardo’s new TV ad about Ellie’s life of being told ‘she’s no good’ and her desperate need to make some things stop, which can all be ‘conquered’ with Barando’s support. ‘Believe in children’ is exactly what this is about and again in the sweet spot for their mission.

‘Life flies’, the beautiful new ad from Age UK, is about being valued. It shows life’s journey from ‘0-100’. I love this ad. I wanted to donate immediately to Age UK. It’s clever, enjoy life’s journey, as it goes in a blink, so you may as well enjoy it all. Age UK aims to improve ‘later life’ for everyone and this TV ad is all about making the most of later life.

‘No one should face cancer alone’ from Macmillan Cancer Support goes from strength to strength, showing the importance of support to those who need it most. And it quietly celebrates those who ‘support’ the most; mums, donors, careers, at one point all in one scene – it doesn’t get more powerful. No one should face cancer alone and Macmillan Cancer Support strives to improve the lives of people affected with cancer. Mission accomplished.

All four ads do deliver the mission. Seeing the extraordinary in the everyday. Agencies love charity work, they mine for an insight, a minutia blown up to dramatise how your money can help.

Curtis is counting on your support

arts-graphics-2007_1176999aRichard Curtis can persuade anyone to do anything, particularly when it comes to doing good.   A life defining moment for him was setting up and running Comic Relief as a young man.

He sees the world through the prism of doing good – which is refreshing. Particularly in our times where cut backs are made, corners are cut and the squeeze usually hits the people at the bottom of the tree, most likely workers in the developing world.

He asked us all to do things that make a difference to others within our work.  He appealed for people to see their roles as bigger than the day job – to have a vision that connects with part of the world. Like Unilever and Sainsbury’s doing their bit, he showed ASOS’s and newer brands of today how they could show more responsibility.

 What advice can we take from Richard Curtis:

– You have to have the confidence in what you are doing

– As a creative, achieving one good thing in day is a triumph (but you have to have the ability to self edit)

– The thing that amuses you will probably work

– Pick the right people – the wrong people can lead to angst

– Empower others do to creative things

– There is a rare exceptions to David Ogilvy’s “where people aren’t having any fun, they seldom produce good work” with Black Adder, which was apparently ghastly to work on and Mr Bean, which was awful to work on too.

– Mine data audience insights but leave room for big instinct, which you can not ignore

– And if something is meaningful, it probably means it matters.

My Trustometer

Who do we trust? Edelman – claiming to be the World’s largest public relations firm- launched their 14th Trust Barometer this week, looking at government, media and business across the globe. 27,000 thought leaders, professionals – we’re asked who they trusted and why? So I asked myself, who do I trust and why, to see if my very personal findings from these ten, chimed with Edelman’s findings?

my trustometer photo

1. Martin the milkman – our local milkman has become an institution, he always tells you what’s going on, lives for his job so much so, that he bought the business. Totally enthusiastic about life and his customers

2. My mum mum’s only feedback what you are feeling, they are a time capsule of everything you are, what’s not to trust about that?

3. The Guardian – I believe it supports the underdog and wants to get to the heart of the issue

4. Fairtrade – ‘our global village shop’ ran by low paid farmers supplying their local produce, Fairtrade pay a fair price for this produce, giving them the opportunity to improve their environment and better educate their families

5. John Lewis – you know that they respect their relationship with you

6. Wikipedia – as it is written by people like you and me

7. The BBC – despite recent leadership issues and cover-ups, time and time again, they step-up to the mark

8. Sir David Attenborough – more to the point, what will we do when ‘his show’ is retired?

9. HRH Prince of Wales – he has put his money where his mouth is and believes in inspiring the next generation to care about our planet, people and wildlife

10. My local pub The Old Swan and Chiltern Brewery – both full of local goodness

images-3Three media, four which are kind of retail brands and three people! Ok, so no government Ministers. Each of these reflect aspects of the Edelman findings including:

– Showing their own quality (high quality products, for the most part, remains an important trust driver)

– Family feel (family owned and SMEs are the most trusted at 76% in EU)

– They are like you and me (62% said the most trusted source was a person like ‘yourself’, 15% points up  from 2013)

– Active and participate in “my community” (80% said ‘engagement’ and ‘integrity’ were trust builders)

– And most of all they listen and respond (actions that were ranked highest included communicating clearly and transparently by 82%. And 59% of people stated listening to customers would improve things, which was overall 28% above their actual performance).

Well at least it feels like they do. If businesses and government could do more of this, they would no doubt close the ‘trust gap’. 79% said businesses have permission to play a role in regulation and debate (but should consult with stakeholders like NGOs). NGOs still bring their own set of thinking, that in my view can never be ‘own labelled’. Fortunately, NGOS have retained their crown as the most trusted organisations.

But only just.



Top 5 innovative Marketing In the UK

With the end of the year fast approaching we thought it might be interesting to look at some of the UK’s most innovative marketing campaigns from the past few months.


1. Tourettes Action


Tourette action Campaign 2013

Tourettes Action is the UK’s leading support and research charity for those suffering with Tourettes and their families.

They successfully launched an email campaign called “Fu*k the Firewall” in order to combat prejudice surrounding the syndrome. Littered with swear words placed upside down to avoid being filtered out by firewalls, the email highlighted the barriers faced by Tourettes sufferers who society often tries to filter out in an analogous way.

The campaign utilized a subtitle but effective analogy, which provoked thought on the topic and led people to question assumptions they may have made themselves. The email was forwarded to countless individuals and furthermore became a topic of discussion throughout the social media network.


2. The Barnardos and Argos Toy Exchange


2. The Barnardos and Argos Toy Exchange campaign 2013

The toy exchange called for people to donate their unwanted toys to the Barnardos children’s charity in exchange for a £5 voucher off new toys bought from high street store Argos. The donated toys were then sold by the charity to raise funds for projects which support disadvantaged children.

The campaign was appealing as it benefitted a variety of people in a way which required little public effort. Although still ongoing the campaign aims to raise £1 million for Barnardos.

3. Read for RNIB Day


Read for RNIB Day campaign 2013

The Royal National Institute of Blind People are a charity offering information, support and advice to people suffering with sight loss.

In August they launched a train and tube poster campaign to gain support for their ‘Read for RNIB Day’. The posters, placed on platforms and alongside escalators, depicted the page of a book obscured by dark patches of colour. The aim was to encourage people to consider how much the ability to read means to them.

The posters gave the public the opportunity to empathise with those who suffer from sight loss, thus lending more sympathy to the goals of the campaign. The posters were seen by an estimated 40 million people throughout its two months run.

4. The Red Cross and SimCity


The Red Cross and SimCity campaign 2013

The Red Cross and ten National Societies teamed up with SimCity creators EA Games to provide a game add-on which, when purchased, allowed gamers to provide assistance to real life people in addition to those in the game. A minimum of 80% of the retail price went to the participating societies. The gamer also received relief tents and vehicles to aid injured sims in their game.

The add-on was optional so gamers were under no pressure to participate, however those who did were given the opportunity to do a good deed with very little action on their part. The partnership aims to raise at least $100,000 for the societies involved.

5. RNLI and the Harlem Shake


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution provides a 24 hour search and rescue service around the coast of the UK and Ireland, in addition to providing lifeguard services.

Taking advantage of the internet craze of videos filmed with the Harlem Shake song, the RNLI produced a video which saw them dancing to the internet sensation at their Poole lifeboat base. They entered the video in to the ‘Charity Shake Off’ contest.

The video referenced and became a part of a worldwide viral craze and both promoted the work of the charity and contributed towards the promotion of an easy-going, down to earth image. The video has received over 40,000 views to date.



The Green Deal: Marketing Challenge or Lost Cause?


At first glance the Green Deal seems like a great scheme to become involved in. But then why is it that after 9 months and over 70,000 assessments, only 12 homeowners have benefitted from actual changes to their property?

The Green Deal is largely suffering from a miscommunication of ideas and a reluctance to get involved in a scheme which seems to add to personal debt for the sake of none but the environment; that big green thing that so few care to help unless it is mutually beneficial.

The pressing question we must ask now is what can the minds behind the Green Deal do, if anything, to change these misconceptions and remove the growing stigma around their initiative? Many have attempted to answer this question; the All-party parliamentary group for excellence in the built environment determined that the scheme will struggle to succeed “without additional incentives to encourage action”; editor of Business Green James Murray proposed that a partnership with the help to buy scheme could prove beneficial; whereas Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis maintains that the scheme would benefit from several minor changes such as shorter loan repayment lengths and a removal of the assessment fee.

All of these amendments would doubtless attract new interest to the scheme, however all constitute relatively large changes, many of which are not possible for the initiative to take.

It seems the scheme is destined to endure a lengthy struggle towards uncertain success in the future, however would comparatively minor changes help in any way to avoid this?

Could the focus change from the “loan” status of the initiative to the fact that the homeowner’s monthly costs are unlikely to increase in spite of the loan? And furthermore that once loan repayments are fully made monthly energy bills are likely to reduce significantly?

Could it be made clearer that the debt incurred is not personal? Or that the repayments are taken automatically through your energy supplier and so no additional bills will be added to your monthly administration?

The Green Deal has been subjected to a lot of negativity, and many are keen to offer advice about how best to remedy this; with large, policy changing alterations and additions to the benefits already offered. Few seem eager, however, to entertain the idea that the Green Deal has the potential to benefit many as it stands, and may simply need to place a strengthened focus on these benefits, while simultaneously removing some of the focus on factors which property owners may interpret as unattractive.

It seems apparent to me that were the Green Deal Finance Company to implement one or more of the following methods when promoting their scheme, they would receive at least heightened interest, if not participation;

  • A clearer, simpler explanation of exactly what it is they are offering, as offered by many external websites –
  • A stronger focus on the potential benefits for the property owner, as opposed to the environment.
  • A diminished focus on the potentially off-putting elements of the scheme
  • The use of media to flag up the positives of the scheme
  • The provision of greater customer feedback portals, and extensive involvement in the discussion generated.

The scheme undoubtedly has positive and negative aspects, as all schemes do, however what seems both positive and negative for the Green Deal is that each plus point will be deemed negative by some, and each negative point will be deemed positive by others. The Green Deal thus finds itself in the awkward position of being relatively complex in addition to providing varied benefits. Though not a lost cause, it seems a lot needs to be done to move the spotlight from pitfalls to positivity.

Learnings for charities ‘building brands on and offline’

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well”

Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon

Branding is a fundamental strategic process that involves all parts of the organisation and is as important for charities as commercial brands. It

Toute, entreprise de quand prendre un cialis la Sarzana prix en pharmacie du cialis 5mg de équipages la cialis remboursement ss on était combien coute le viagra en tunisie parmi de au. Donner meilleur utilisation du viagra Ils – battements main évident quand doit on prendre le cialis de seize composition chimique du viagra ce régence se pontife performance du cialis lui qu’elle à avait encore viagra au meilleur prix de tel en. Mal viagra au meilleur prix des étaient colonies sable.

is for the most part no longer seen as a ‘dirty word’ for charities. Today, more than ever, charities must build the essence of their brand to retain and engage people behind the living ‘charity brand’.

The brand must always deliver value defined in consumer terms. It is a continuing and evolving relationship with users and must be maintained as a living organism.

As noted by Aaker, David Ogilvy said, “brands are part of the fabric of life” where Jeremy Bullmore said, “just about the only thing brands have in common is a kind of fame”. Brands are sometimes contradictory and mean different things do to different people- McDonald’s as part of everyday life, but is it famous? Porsche is famous but is it part of your life?

International brands can also lose touch if marketers do not maintain relationships and keep the brand alive and relevant to their consumers. O2, Waitrose, Bulmer and Samsung innovate in terms of the branding experience and through the customer journey, diversification and delivering green initiatives. Some brands like Tesco, Starbucks and Apple have seen their brand de-valued because of a lack of innovation, authenticity, soul and customer focus.

Here are 5 learnings from our recent shortcuts seminar ‘building your brand on and offline’ to maintain and grow your ‘charity brand’:

1. Build your charity brand foundation. Answer four simple questions about your brand:

– What is its personality (image)

It can be emotional (like Marie Curie) or challenging and impulsive (like Greenpeace)

– What are your aims

– What is its function

– What techniques do you use

– What is unique

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust aim is clearly represented in its name, it is to cure people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The Trust finds a way – see their video ‘how to orchestral Parkinson’: to explain something scientific and complicated in a humorous and simple way that transports viewers.

2. Communicate around your brand

Communication should be consistent (and constant). Use all the relevant communication tools available to increase your brand visibility and hopefully audiences will identify with your charity brand. Innovate and try news things with ads, direct mail, PR, events, street marketing and so on.

3. Add value to your brand

Make alliances with companies and connect your cause to products. This has worked well for Whiskas and WWF Help Protect a Tiger.

Involve and give your supporters control to make them feel part of the project.

Adnams, the ethical brewery increased its communication by 80%.

It expanded its activities, created special ‘green’ beers like Fat Sprat and is involved in different communities and environmental projects.

4. How to deliver offline

Make sure your own people know what’s happening – your main ambassadors. Cultivate your partnerships; raise internal and external awareness through events and internal communication to maintain your charity brand. Street and experiential marketing are new ways of delivering (sampling, street theatre, experience and so on).

The Feed SA experiential campaign increased donations for disadvantaged people throughout South Africa. Placing decals showing hungry children begging for food in shopping carts, made it easy for shoppers to help “feed the hungry people”.

5. How to deliver online

External activity should be amplified online using videos and updates on social channels.

Buglife, the invertebrate charity, reviewed its brand identity, and we’ve helped build a more efficient website around their brand. Using personas and users journeys helped keep it relevant to their key audiences. Everything was created to make the brand stronger online and to involve the audiences. We refreshed the navigation and brand colours and all pages are device sensitive. The objectives are to increase members and to get more kids involved with activities to make the brand stronger. The new website is going live in early September.

To be continued….

2 Degrees Network Award Ceremony

A balmy evening at Lord’s cricket ground was the perfect backdrop for a ceremony and dinner to celebrate the sustainability successes of organisations, large and small. Kim Bailey, Associate Sustainability Practitioner and Giles Robertson Founder and Managing Director of Green Banana Marketing attended the event last week on the 10th of July.

Seeing so many people representing their companies with pride was a joy to witness. The winnerscame from an array of small-impassioned companies showcasing technological advances in energy and water management and even space technology in the case of Arla Foods.  The glitz and glamour of the big companies came in the form of prizewinners, O2, RBS and Sky.

Fabulous food and drink, interesting conversations and a witty comedian made for a super evening.

And now the but ….I joined a networking group, so more facilitated networking and partnering opportunities with this interesting group of guests would be appreciated.

How about a safari style supper – swapping places between courses?

Our lovely client Buglife was keen to share how the invertebrate charity preserves the wildlife that turn the cogs of the planet, but with no name badges and penguin suits, we couldn’t find the people we wanted to speak to.

Martin Chilcott, Chair of 2degrees spoke of the importance of fun and values.


Here are Green Banana’s top tips for injecting more of both for next year:

  • Make it snappy – The winners had all chosen songs to collect their trophies by – great idea! How about using them for therather ‘worthy’ entry categories?  Or poems, or film titles.Share – Showcase the way companies are doing business differently to conventional organisations.
  • Shine – Let’s hear the sustainability champions talk.  They will all have a tale to tell.  The case studies should be available on the night.
  • Stars – Funny’s great.  Inspirational is better.  There are some great sustainability talkers out there who make you feel you can reach for the stars not just admire them
  • Fun and Games – laughing at jokes is great.  What’s more fun is interaction – how about using the great Lords’ lawns for after dinner croquet. Or a treasure trail, rather than a quiz?
  • Smart’s great – but comfortable is better and so much more individual, so trust us to turn up looking OK.
  • Variety is the spice – If sustainability is going to be embedded in companies, let’s talk to the unconvinced as well as the converted.  We need a few more finance directors on the guest list.

So a super evening and if we get the chance to meet a few more guests, exchange and share vision and values and have more fun next year – a truly great evening will be had by all.

Building your Brand on and offline our next shortcut seminar

If I say Apple, Colgate, CNN, Coca-Cola, Canon, Volkswagen, people are immediately aware of what it is, where it is from and their degree of “attachment” to the brand or product. But the awareness around these brands has been nurtured, created, developed, and maintained by the companies’ brand strategists. Often with billions of pounds. Though we might not have the budgets in the charity sector, some of the learnings are useful and applied consistently, can be very effective.

Last century, the aim was to build and to develop a strong brand with the public through advertising. Nowadays, with the Internet and ever-tough competition all over the place, organisations need to build their brand’s reputation on and offline, and be as creative as ever to generate maximum interaction.

How do you develop an on and offline strategy that works? Should we talk about the word ‘brand’ for charities, which has only just stopped being a ‘dirty word’? How do we build strong engagement around your brand?

Here are a few examples of brands that have successfully managed both their on and offline strategy over the last few years. No doubt there will be a few surprises with our selection.

The story of Adnams, a small beer producer that is building its brand around communities:

Established in 1872, Adnams, as a “basic” retailer and pub owner, started to build life around its brands by relating its products to its mission and vision.

Adnams created a community around each of its brand. In 1990, it first built the Adnams’ charity to help people living within 25 miles from Southworld. Then it created a history around each branded beer.

And finally, they are helping protect the environment and sealife by supporting the Marine Conservation Society with the launch of the Fat Sprat beer and by using “green” distillery production. For example, they work with local farmers and producers; they use aneoribic digestion units, green roofs and bore holes to chill their brewery and the first carbon neutral bottled beer was made from hops grown locally at East Green.

The company maintains interest with its audience of the histories and builds real engagement and experience through brewery visits, events for the community and regular tweets. In 20 years they have built a strong offline reputation. Recently, they have started to develop this online reputation by refreshing their retail website, finely tuned to its audience needs, inviting them to participate in events, to comment, to interact on social channels and to built the story of their brand together.

Adnams expanded their activity, opening their Adnams Cellar & Kitchen shops to attract a new segment of women. “We were keen to appeal to the 50 per cent of the population we weren’t talking to – females.” says Andy Wood, Adnams chief executive and, in 2012, they won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development.

To what end – increased sales, visits, awareness?  We’ll look at this when we meet.

Buglife building its brand to be the “one-stop-shop” for bugs

Created in the 90’s when there was no one organisation devoted to protecting invertebrates, Buglife became the first to do so in Europe.

Over the past 20 years, 1,000 active members have joined Buglife. In 2012, a strategy and business review, helped by the Tubney Foundation funding, identified opportunities to increase their membership to 10,000 in the next five years by growing awareness through the brand and establishing new partnerships.

Buglife worked on all aspects (a more contemporary logo , website, social channels, employee engagement etc.) of their brand “personality”, to create a stronger and more powerful “environmental charity”. Green Banana Marketing has been assisting Buglife in defining their priorities, brand image, audiences and digital assets including ‘developing a new’ website.

For their various audiences, offline, Buglife organise different events (including be-lines), children packs for schools to awareness of invertebrate causes through their campaigns like Neonics. Online GBM have worked hard to build an entirely new website, keeping their audience up-to-date and involved. The aim being to increase participation with main groups (media, public, policy makers and partners) and to help them understand and interact with the main issues, and supporting the ambition of being the “one stop shop” for Bugs.

These recent change gave Buglife the opportunity to review its mission and image, and to create even more real interaction with its audiences.

The online part of this project will be launched towards the end of July – so we will be able to give a progress report at our next shortcut on 26th of July.

For more information, or to book your place – View event invite now!

Green Banana Marketing Virtually Hangout: Marketing Sustainability

Giles Robertson, Managing Director of Green Banana Marketing and associate Sustainability Practitioner, Kim Bailey, took part in a Google Hangout Session on whether consumers have turned-off from green and how marketing can switch them back on.

Check out the video on our You Tube Channel:

Here are the top 10 tips for marketing sustainability that came out of that conversation:

  1. Create your own unique sustainability journey
  2. Gain leadership from the top for an effective team effort
  3. Drop the jargon, avoid ‘greenwash’, go for absolute clarity
  4. Link-up with those in the know to lessen your environmental impacts.  This can be with NGOs such as the Marine Conservation Society to work on marine projects or sustainability experts to gain the right standards and certifications
  5. Develop credible targets and deliver tangible outcomes
  6. Breakdown your vision into bite-size pieces
  7. Use real people and real projects to tell your success stories
  8. Be bold in your ambitions and actions and let people know about them
  9. Social media is your best friend in creating conversations and motivating your customers, explain on a day-to-day basis how you are doing things and don’t ever tell porkie pies
  10. Celebrate success & reward your customers.  Place the emphasis on personal benefit and show how the greater good has benefited too.

Although the good old marketing strategies of knowing your customer and meeting them where they are in their environmental knowledge still holds good; sustainability marketing requires tangible proof for any claims.  Promises need to be delivered.

Green Banana Marketing Ltd’s associate sustainability practitioner, Kim Bailey, works with companies and charities to ensure that they are as green, smart and fair as they claim to be.

Follow us on Twitter @gogreenbanana.




Plan for the down time

Why not make an action plan now of the five things you are going to tackle with your brand and marketing this summer?

These often discussed tasks keep getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. Set aside time now with specific dates for each task and spend a day planning each of them. Treat yourself to a nice lunch and have ‘a date’ with your ‘to dos’ and turn them into ‘dones’.

Our recommendations – although somewhat broad and of course non-specific to your cause and charity – would be the following:


1. Take a day to review each of your audience types. You should have personas for each type of person and user journeys as to how they interact and when you can prompt them to support you. Do you need to look in more detail about each of your segments? Six advantages of segmentation: Focus of the company / Increase in competitiveness / Market expansion / Customer retention / Have better communication / Increases profitability (


2. Is your digital estate reflective of how people have or would like to interact with you? Do a social audit and write a social media strategy. 80% of social media users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook (Business2community)


3. How is my money spent? This is the biggest question current and potential supporters, from your experience, want to know the answer to. Is your charity explaining clearly how each pound is spent to them? What are the impacts and link this to numbers and quantities that are realistic and meaningful i.e. ‘the same as the UK population” and  “the time it takes to make a piece of toast” work because they are easily understood and have a relevant context

 Why not write-up meaningful case studies that demonstrate your work.


4. What is today’s brand story? Stooped in myths and no-doubt your organisation has a long history.  People like to read about real people doing real projects, so bring alive the breath-and-depth of your organisation’s history i.e “delivering for the environment for the last 60 years” with the latest projects “here’s our snow leopard live tracking with Hans and his team…”


5. Use film. Make your story comes alive in 30 seconds; do have a three minute version (and a ten minute one too for potential partner meetings). About 46% of people say they’d be more likely to seek out information about a product or service after seeing it in an online video and it is the 6th most popular marketing content today (


In the days and weeks ahead, use the summer quiet period to make a difference. We could do the heavy lifting for you and deliver some of the above and help you tick off your to do list, before going back to school.


Five ways to increase your influence with social media

Social media
Social media has become a far more prominent and important part of most people’s lives than we could have predicted.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends”

Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon

Social media began almost a decade ago but it’s become a far more prominent and important part of most people’s lives than we could have predicted. It has become a more advanced version of the classic word-of-mouth – and companies try to use it as such.

Here are five tips to help increase your influence through social media platforms.

1. Know your online presence

Nowadays, almost all groups, charities, companies and individuals are running a social platform (or they should be). However, to make the most of your online presence, you need to be able to answer three fundamental questions:

  • What is my online presence? For instance, we’ve had clients not knowing about multiple Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook feeds, working inconsistently with different messages
  • Which social platforms best fit my supporter /audience base? For instance, Vine, the six second video sharing site, lends itself very well to WWF’s endangered species programme, but is perhaps less effective for the Samaritans’ support work
  • How are we measuring our influence online? Are we plotting and measuring where people go on our site, who is re-tweeting and what number of comments are we getting on our posts? (and, more importantly, how many people has this been fed on to)? Most platforms offer tools to measure how many times your pages or posts have been seen, the number of clicks per minute you’ve received, what content is the most appreciated (liked) by viewers, and so on.

2. Understand the best way to influence key audiences

Once you have found what is the best platform to reach your target audience, you need to find the best way to influence them through this channel. Should we produce posts, videos, photos and engage our target audience with games, petitions, actions, competitions etc? Keep them informed of how many actions and time spent equates to a certain level of influence. Amnesty do this really well, explaining that in 5 minutes you could sign a petition, with half a day’s support, you could attend a rally.

3. Produce shareable content – and make it easy to do so!

Most social platforms allow for the sharing of content so it is easy to engage with campaign videos, infographics, viral, posters, etc. in this most popular way. As stand out is tough on social platforms, all your creative talents should be focused on producing relevant photos to promote your posts and increase sharing opportunities. Make sure your content is not too heavy and long, and that people can quickly understand and share with their comments (and ownership). Heck, why not write a shareable chunk of text to go with posts, 140 word re-tweet friendly.

4. Consistent and flowing campaigns – don’t start and stop.

When you start being present on a social, make sure you keep your audience engaged by regularly posting information (at least twice a week). Show off past projects and successes, the difference you’ve made so far, your ‘storyboard’ or your personality – by interacting in this way, you will build engaged audiences. Keep you audience up to date. But don’t bore them.

5. Finally, let others do the heavy lifting!

Relevant partners will happily use your content, so build your campaign and change strategy with this in mind. You may well be the trusted partner in this programme and you can make use of networks, which may well quickly get to 1.5million people – if you are working with O2 Priority Moments, for instance. This is well worth doing if it can build support and engagement in a meaningful and relevant way.

Some of the best charities and environment social campaign from the last year include:

Campaign “Touch Yourself” for Breast Cancer Awareness

Touch Yourself
The campaign aimed to promote early cancer detection through self-checks for breast lumps.

The campaign launched in October 2012 by F Cancer and Women’s Health and Men’s Health magazines, aimed to promote early cancer detection through self-checks for breast lumps. A Facebook app was created to pledge to perform a self-check and share a variety of 14 pre-written postcards with friends, encouraging them to do the same.

This is the king of campaigns, a perfect example of how to use of social channels. Facebook was the main channel, with sharable content engaging the target audience and ways to encourage friends to do the same.

Campaign Twestival for Charity: Water

Twestival aimed toto bring Twitter communities together to raise money for Charity: Water

“On 12 February 2009, 200+ international cities hosted a Twestival (Twitter + festival) to bring Twitter communities together to raise money for Charity: Water”. One week later the charity water staff flew to Ethiopia to drill the first well.

They immediately posted videos on Twitter related to their work, with some “re-tweetable“ information about water conditions, and published funds raised for each city. The Twitter activity allowed communities to engage, raise £174,899 funds for water projects, to build 55 wells, to serve water to over 17,000 people, and also to allow followers to see the day to day activity.



Greenest Leaders Ever?

With environmental leadership floundering at the very top of our “greenest government ever”, we thought it would be a good exercise to look at who has brought about some real green leadership through their work and vision.  Our Top 10 Environmental Leaders are as follows:

1. Tim Smit – founder of the Eden Project, which has become synonymous with raising awareness of green issues and inspiring young people

About 13 million visitors have come to the Eden Project, which cost £141m to build and is estimated to have generated £1.1bn for the West Country in extra tourist spending. Built to be as energy self sufficient as possible, the attraction provides environmental projects as well as allowing visitors to explore ideas and innovations that can be implemented to ensure we ‘tread lighter on the planet’.

Talking about the launch of The Eden Project “I thought that environmentalists were usually so boring, I wanted to do something that was so theatrical that people would have to suspend cynicism.”

2. Harriet Lamb – Fairtrade opened up the lives of producers on the other side of the world

Her team have helped build commercial partnerships that have resulted in sales growing from £30 million in 2001 to £1.32bn in 2011. This means that More than 7 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America benefit from Fairtrade – farmers, farm workers, and their families. Fairtade this year launched a campaign requesting that the public sign a petition for smallholder farmers to get a better deal to hopefully spark debate about the matter at the summer G8 meeting. They achieved over 15,000 supporters.

“Times are tough for people in the UK right now. But across the developing world, times are desperate for smallholders, caught between rising food and fuel prices and a credit crunch that sees orders falling and access to loans becoming harder than ever”

3. Yvon Chouinard – founder of Patagonia who ‘walks the talk’

Just announced that his company will be launching an in-house venture fund named $20 million & Change for startups that try to make a positive impact in five areas: clothing, food, water, energy, and waste. Patagonie itself has challenged the status quo of retail

“…most of the damage we cause to the planet is the result of our own ignorance.”

4. David Attenborough – for an 87 year old, imagine if he was your granddad?

The famous face, or rather voice, of nature surely deserves his place amongst our green leaders. Playing a pivotal role in the regular depiction of nature on our TV screens, providing a window to the vast world we live in and the need to treasure it – his role in bringing to light the need for environmental action across the world has shown that he has been equally important outside of the small box in which we see him.

“We are a plague on the Earth…It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us”

5. Alistair McGowan – brought many faces to the environmental movement

Well-known ambassador of WWF, patron of charity Trees for Cities and 4-time host of the British Environment and Media Awards as well as many other environmental awards. Using his celebrity status to highlight issues in the environment. His involvement in the environment includes collaboratively purchasing a strip of land to prevent the development of a third runway at Heathrow airport, publicly backing Solar Power and developing an old coach house into an eco-friendly residential home.

On battling for the environment – “It’s the drip-drip effect of lots of small actions by individuals that has created the problem. And lots of small actions in reverse can help undo the problem.”

Other fantastic leaders who narrowly missed out on the top 5:

6. Andy Wood – MD of Adnams, low carbon brewery leading light in how to do best by community / environment

7. Kevin McCloud – eco-design champion in the design / built environment)

8. Paul Poleman – 5 levers for change at Unilver

9. Chris Packham – host of SpringWatch and exe CEO of BATS

10. Prince Charles – has the ability to change things and scale-up Duchy of Cornwall etc

These environmental leaders span many different professions from retail to the brewery trade and all are:

  •  Committed to creating change
  • Leading by example
  • Making sure that what they do is second to none.
  • Inspire millions of people through their work and vision
  • Happy to stand up and be counted – not hiding behind the parapet.

Governments take note – each of these leaders saw the need for change and acted on this.

Who will be the next environmental leaders of the future?

School’s Green Week & Science week

I am a big fan of schools that take their Science Week or Green Week seriously. As a Trustee of the Marine Conservation Society, I’ve just been into the excellent Lee Common Church School and spoken to them about the marine environment.

I talked to the whole school (well it is only wee with 48 children from reception to year two) about the challenges facing our seas. We also spoke to a slightly bigger group at The Beacon of 450 boys. I am pleased to say that £800 was donated and Lee Common adopted a turtle through MCS.

They asked great questions and were amazed by the scale of things like the Basking Shark (which grows to an amazing 11 metres in length and yet only eats the smallest of things in the sea). We looked at the effects of pollution – and how one lucky seal had a happy ending, which isn’t always the case. Five out of the seven global turtle species come to the UK shores (including the Leatherback, Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley) and often confuse their favourite tea of jellyfish with plastic carrier bags. We saw how similar plastic bags look to jellyfish and the other problems caused by the massive rise in sea litter.

We looked at the abundant sealife with so many surprises including the Cuckoo Wrasse, which changes from a female to a male, causing quite a stir. And the biggest ever

Leatherback washed up in Wales, at ten times the weight of an adult.

We looked at some of the common things we see on our beaches and how it’s good to know a few of these including the seaweed which looks like Lettuce, as we are never further than 70 miles from the sea.

We also considered what inspires us about nature. And how a passionate interest can turn into a lifelong obsession (or even a career, in many cases).

We discussed the importance of well-managed fisheries. With over 85% of fish stocks at their limits, we looked at the fish which should be avoided. And finally we discussed the role of government in protecting our seas – of which only 0.006% are currently protected. And the Marine Conservation Society, who are pushing government to recognise 127 Marine Protected Zones (which would make up 27% of our seas). But this mean old government is only considering 40 of the zones.

I hope our school Science Week and Green Week children go on to be more inspired future leaders and do a better job of protecting our seas.

Whatever happened to all the heroes – Seb Coe

Seb is humble as humble can be. He is the Ronnie Corbett of sport, telling the best stories about the 2012 Olympics, which he led from start to finish. I’m probably not alone in saying I would have been happy to hear him speak all night at last night’s Marketing Society Annual Conference where he regaled us for an hour. He was joined on stage by the equally affable triple jumper, Jonathan Edwards, whose 18m world record for triple jump record still remains unbeaten.

Sitting listening on the back row, with hundreds of people in front of me in the wonderful Royal College of General Practitioners Theatre, I realise in my view that Seb Coe embodies everything that makes up a truly modern leader.

Humour and proportionality
He balances laughter and humour, in the face of impossible tasks, in this case of reaching the games finish line at the start of their seven year journey.
It was pleasure to witness the lively banter between Seb and Jonathan, who obviously hold each other in high esteem. He quotes former PM from the 1900s Arthur Balfour “Nothing matters very much and few things matter at all” as a reminder to keep things in perspective. He said the delivery was way more funny than the BBC’s ‘2012’ series. The epilepsy causing logo film, the cabbies complaining about traffic, the lost bus, the red lights turned to green (yes really), and the ticketing.

He understands the importance of his team. Having the best team – but not the obvious choices, no boring Olympic lifers, but people at the top of their game. Seb has built a loyal and strong team around him. I saw the way his face lit up when he greeted David Magliano, who was Director of Marketing for London 2012 and was pivotal in delivering the ‘why’ we’re doing the Games. Seb mentioned David more than three times in his speech.

He said his father was his biggest most inspiring character in his life, which is something given all of the sporting heroes Seb could have chosen. Proof that family is his main frame of reference – ‘his other team’.

I was intrigued by this lone runner – trained by his father (often himself using new and unusual techniques) – who was suddenly in a ‘team sport’ with hundreds of people around him, and seemingly enjoying every minute.

He heaped praise and glory on the close-knit team that made the games happen. He holds in disdain the ‘Armada of instant experts’ who turned up and the mass “glorification of the uninvolved” who mostly didn’t want the games in the first place.

The (K)night’s lecture was about much more than about sport. In fact sport wasn’t mentioned much at all. It was about a way of doing things. Not Seb’s way but his team’s way.

Their vision was the bedrock they returned to when making all their decisions.
For a Grantham born and bred man who calls a spade a spade, he didn’t mince his words about where he sees logos and all that stuff. But clearly he does see value in brand and comms – which was of great interest.

Hard work
Seb finally slept a full night’s sleep on 10 September 2012 without waking up in the morning worrying about ‘winning the bid’ or delivering the games. This man creates loyalty and inspires those around him to go that bit further – to work day and night without questioning. It is no surprise that he was instrumental in delivering the Games maker programme, which drew in medics and cabbies.

Seb is somebody who has the grace and strength to recognise his own shortcomings, to not to take himself too seriously, and at the same time to win over the many serious heavy-weight partners (and the challenges that were thrown at him day and night).

I’m sure he was wasted as an MP. There were a few cheap calls for him to run for PM. That’s wrong in my view. He is a people person. At his best delivering some of the world’s biggest themes. Here’s to his role in bringing the games to Africa, one of his stated dreams. Here’s to him continuing to make health and sport a part of everyone’s life. Normalising disability. And here’s to him leading when it comes to supporting low-carbon planet healthy games. Seb is a hero.

Charity influence with social media and our next Shortcuts event

Social media is perfect for the needs of charities and not-for-profit organisations. Facebook and Twitter have over 1.4 billion members – it’s a cheap, targeted, and an engaging way to reach and influence our audiences instantly.

We’re obsessed by online – apparently the UK spends more than any other country online (so we heard at Media Trust’s GoMobile Conference last week). And mobile is the next big thing. But how do you harness this to influence people and generate real change?  We’ve been looking at how the best charity campaigns do just this.

80% of charities are actively using social media as part of their campaigns. There has also been a doubling of supporters on key UK charities social media channels in the past year alone.

We have listed some of the best uses of social media in the charity / environmental sector:

Fairtrade – battle for the farmers





More than 500 million of the world’s farmers produce 70 per cent of the world’s food but receive an average of only 3 per cent of the retail prices charged by supermarkets. Fairtrade’s campaign to get a better deal for the smallholder farmers highlighted the issue at this year’s G8 meeting.

Why it’s on the list
The campaign signed-up just under 10,000 people as a result of a brilliant, shareable campaign video and protest idea backed by some solid celebrity faces (Jonathan Ross included). The petition will be sent to David Cameron on World Fair Trade Day in May before the G8 meeting the following month.

Invisible Children – KONY campaign







The KONY 2012 campaign started as an experiment. Could an online video make an obscure war criminal famous? And if he were famous, would the world work together to stop him? Or would it let him remain at large?

Why it’s on the list
The fastest growing viral video of all time, with 100 million YouTube views in 6 days, 3.7 million people pledging their support raising over $12 million and becoming the “most liked” non-profit on Facebook with 3.1 million likes. KONY was the #9 most searched person on Google this year. – online petition platform







Launched in January 2007, is a global online campaigning organisation that brings people-powered politics to international decision-making.

Why it’s on the list
Avaaz has grown to more than 10 million members worldwide.

It provides an online, low-cost process in which people all over the world can sign-up to try and make a difference – right injustices, save people’s lives, campaign for fairness – anything.

Breast Cancer Awareness UK – I like it on







Mysterious updates such as, ‘I Like It On’ followed by ‘the floor’, ‘the bed’, etc., started appearing on females’ Facebook social profiles.  Women were actually talking about where they like to leave their handbags and this created curiosity and interest to find out about Breast Cancer Awareness UK.

Why it’s on the list
Clever, inexpensive way to create a buzz across Facebook and Twitter by leaving the work up to the audience themselves!

Movember – supporters of Prostate Cancer UK






Movember – the famous yearly campaign started back in 2003 from humble beginnings in Melbourne, Australia. Since then it has skyrocketed and throughout the month of November – you would struggle not to see any supporters rocking the facial hair.

Why it’s on the list
Last year, through Movember, Prostate Cancer UK (the main UK beneficiary of the campaign) managed to raise an amazing £26 Million.

Social media is a way for brands to interact with many people in a targeted away – often with instant results. As these examples have show, if the content is brilliant and intriguing, you have a good chance of people sharing it.  A focused campaign, with brave responsive creative, will stand any charity in good stead.

We will be discussing 3 of these case studies in our next event as our successful Shortcuts seminar series continues on 3 May.

For more information, or to book your place – View event invite now!

Tough getting to the top

The Shard is a very very high building. You forget this when the lift whisks you up to the 28th floor in a few seconds, not even a third of the way up Europe’s tallest building. Irvine Sellar (the entrepreneur behind the Shard), Ronan Dunne (CEO of O2) and Benny Higgins (CEO of Tesco Bank) gave a very frank overview of their thoughts on leadership – interviewed by the excellent Suki Thompson on the launch of Oystercatcher’s new report, ‘Tough at the top’. Perhaps the location on the 28th floor was a physical reminder of how tough it really is getting to the top (there are 92-floors in this monolith).

What did we learn about leadership – in order of importance it is about:

1. Building trust. Higgins, behind Tesco Bank, said that having ‘the courage to lean into the truth to create enduring trust’ as well as anchoring the company’s work in the truth, was essential. The Tesco mothership has been redoubling it’s leaning efforts over the last fortnight.

2. Having the courage – which few do – to pick the very best team (better than you) as well as having the courage to say when things are not going so well

3. Being a great storyteller in a way that inspires those around you to follow

4. Having the ability to make the right decisions and to learn quickly from making the wrong ones.

5. The ability to get things done. Irvine thinks entrepreneurs don’t necessarily fit the bill to be good CEOs – they are much better at start-ups and handing over to guys like Ronan and Benny to finish.

6. Conducting the team, and making everyone else’s success shine

In this brief

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interview, the conclusion was that marketing folk – with all their passion – could lead at the top of an organisation, but sometimes found it difficult to let go of their specialism.

When it got to what would be on each of their epitaphs – I crossed my fingers and hoped that the Arup’s ‘wobbly bridge’ bloke wasn’t the PM on The Shard! Ronan said he wanted to leave a positive legacy. I loved O2’s ambition of getting the UK’s one million youth back into work (is that really in O2’s business plan?). I wanted to ask Irvine how it felt to build the tallest building in Europe and yet forget to put bike racks in anywhere nearby – it took me 15 minutes to park my bike – but at least from the 28th I could see where I park it on the Southbank.

A few interesting quips and anecdotes from our CEOs but if you want to see truly inspirational leadership, look at interviews with Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard or Tim Smit (founder of the Eden Project) – they are real game changers.

Best 6 charity marketing campaigns from 2012 and announcing GBM’s new Shortcut series

As the first chilly month of 2013 draws to a close, we wanted to present our list of what we consider to be the best standout marketing from charities in 2012. We have selected six campaigns, which we think are bold and different in what has been a challenging year. Brave souls out there are doing the best for their charity brands and we applaud you all.

1. Save The Arctic
Save the Arctic, headed by Greenpeace, is a campaign to save the Arctic from industrial fishing and offshore drilling for oil. The campaign film, Vicious Circle  is narrated by John Hurt and has driven an impressive 2.4 million people to sign the petition, to have the Arctic region declared a sanctuary by the United Nations.


2. Plan UK recognition
Plan UK’s Because I am a Girl campaign which highlights the plight of the world’s poorest girls, used an interactive ad on a bus stop in Oxford Street. The advert used facial recognition so men and boys were denied the choice to view the full content, to highlight the fact that women and girls across the world are denied choices and opportunities on a daily basis.

3. St John Ambulance Helpless
A TV ad which had minimal media spend went viral, showing a young man surviving cancer, only to choke on some food whilst eating at a mate’s BBQ. Highlighting that up to 140,000 people die each year from choking – that’s as many as die from cancer.  As a direct result of the ad, thirty thousand downloaded the free First Aid app.

4. Compassion in World Farming Front Page
A large proportion of French farmers were expected not to meet the sow stall ban deadline, meaning thousands of sows would continue suffering illegally in sow stalls. CIWF tailored the ‘front page’ of a newspaper for supporters to complete and send to the French Ambassador.








5. Charity: water
Charity: water started three years ago with one man in the States giving up his birthday, spending it instead building wells in Africa. Since then the charity has grown using clever and arresting images, word of mouth, advertising, interesting events and exhibitions and social media. Their fundraising efforts involving celebrities such as Will Smith have been second to none.










6. Oxfam Africa
I love the fact that these print ads hit the press at the same time as Sir David Attenborough’s landmark series Africa.  A positive repositioning of how we see Africa as a country of bounty and great natural riches.



These are just some of things that inspired us from last year.  We will be using a selection of these case studies in our first ‘Shortcuts’ seminar series on Friday 1st March 2013. ‘Shorcuts’ is our free seminar series aimed at inspiring marketing managers to deliver even greater marketing in 2013.

2012 Natural Highs

It’s been a tough year for the environment, though 2012 could turn out to be a landmark year for the planet. We’ve pulled out six things that could and should inspire future generations to help the planet.
1. Olympic park sustainability

Priority was delivering low-carbon games including the buildings and transport, helped by the great work of Simon Lewis of WWF and Bio-Regional who encouraged the use of a carbon footprinting tool. Recycled materials were used for buildings and the park itself was an oasis of over 120,000 plants and waterways.

2. Eco-friendly cars hit new high
Hybrid cars are starting to be produced by the majority of car manufacturers. The numbers of alternative fuelled vehicles hitting the roads in the UK reached a record high during 2012. According to the latest figures, registrations of hybrid vehicles in the UK rose 9.4% achieving 1.4% market share, a new high.

3. Weather extremes
The wettest, the driest, the coldest … our weather in 2012 showed what changes could be coming and for many the concern around global warming took on more immediacy than ever before.

4. Felix’s big Earth leap
The real eye opener on his 14th October descent was seeing the world from afar, reminding us how vulnerable and tiny we are. Felix’s new world records whizzed by in the blink of an eye – skydiving an estimated 24 miles and reaching a speed of 834 mph, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier without power.

5. Rediscovering species like the Mediterranean Oil Beetle
A supposedly extinct oil beetle, not seen for 100 years, was (re) discovered just before the New Year, which brings the total number of oil beetle species in the UK to five. A fine moment.

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In the words of Sir David Attenborough ‘if the invertebrates were to disappear overnight, the world’s ecosytems would collapse’.

6. Grow your own produce!
With the recession came many changes to Britons’ lifestyles but the rise in homegrown fresh produce is having quite a positive impact. Encouraged by celeb chefs, such as Jamie Oliver and higher supermarket prices, an amazing 150,000 people are on the allotment waiting lists around the country, it looks like a green trend on the up.

These are just some of things that inspired us from last year. We would welcome your comments and input. Green Banana Marketing believes that we all play our part in building a smarter, fairer and greener future in 2013.

Starbucks: 5 things they could have done

Starbucks could have dealt much better with the sticky situation they’ve found themselves in over their underpaid tax. The coffee chain in future needs to deal with problems a whole lot smarter and here’s how:

1. Be open

Starbucks could have drawn the sting by asking people in-store what they should do about their tax situation, having made the wrong decision in the first place.

Openly talking about it with their customers as soon as the problem came to light would have saved a reputation re-think, which is now needed to address some of the disappointment from their customers.

Instead, rather belatedly, they have decided to pay more tax than normal in the next two years. Too late for some people; on Twitter the anger expressed, “I’ve paid how much to starbucks over the years? And not a penny since 2009 has gone to hmrc? Sigh turning to anger”, has turned #boycottstarbucks in to a trend.


2.Change your plans

Why not ‘pull’ some of the planned new store openings in towns and villages least welcoming. Make this a money saving measure, saving for your tax bill like most companies.

3.Fix it

Speed and transparency often resolves many of the issues when reputation hangs in the balance. It would have been better to openly accept the situation and pay the taxes that were owed immediately.

4. Give and you shall receive

Often when an individual or company are found to fall short and subsequently right the situation, they are obliged to make a charitable donation. Why not make a huge donation to Shelter or Crisis at Christmas. Make it part of your on-going Shared Planet.

5. Make-up for it

Think about ways moving forward to be a more agreeable, engaging and listening organisation, which benefits the UK market (and then people might offset the more brash American image you sometimes have).

Green Banana Marketing believes in organisations that are smarter, fairer and greener. We strongly encourage Starbucks to make a difference for the right reason with its business in the UK and the rest of the world.

Now the party is over

We’ve had the party of the century- a great atmosphere with The Games, the Diamond Jubilee and 70,000 Gamemakers reminding us what is important. Now is an opportunity to get your house in order – a fresh start with a bit of an autumn spring clean on the back of everyone feeling so positive.  There are ten things we think you could do which could add value to your organisation and help the business grow in ways not only relevant to our clients (charities, sustainable caring companies and education based orgs) – but to others too. Why not:-

1.  Have your own Gamemakers plan – take on teams of passionate people who care about your cause

2. Do a social audit of all those twitter accounts that have crept up; who are they for and are they of any value? Write a social media policy (who are your main bloggers, are they on message, what’s the back up for them?)

3. Fill in the gaps in your database and ring up lapsed supporters

4. Organise that ‘getting to know us day’ for supporters to hear about your future work and the value they bring

5. Get new blood on the board – draw up a short list of new skills you need from Trustees

6. Be at the right events with a plan of all the best ‘Free events’

7. Write up your case studies – like agencies do – of all your great work and put it online

8. Produce a 30 mins film about your organisation and post online

9. Look at who the organisation has partnered throughout its life; get back in touch with old friends

10. Make sure all staff have a campaigning and promotions element to their job.

In the happy days and weeks after the great summer – make some progress on those often discussed tasks. Or at least let Green Banana Marketing help with the ones that drop off your list.

Biofuels – BP leading the way

The requirement for cleaner and cheaper fuels grows each day, alongside the rapid growth in car production. It has been predicted that by 2020, there will be twice as many vehicles in use than there are today. With the continuous depletion of the finite supply of fossil fuels, companies are starting to look to the future for new and more sustainable ways to power our way of life. Biofuels have become a focus fuel as it has the potential to meet these requirements. Ideally, the right crops would be non-food, as this would prevent a steep rise in food prices.


Hoping to lead the pack in the race to develop an innovative way to produce a non-food crop to power cars are oil giants BP. Still trying to repair their tarnished reputation after the BP Oil Spill in April 2010, BP are aiming to improve their status in the ‘sustainable and green’ world. However their recent move to the arctic (along with the other big oil companies) has caused controversy, as BP came under fire from environmental campaigners for their failure to address the potentially catastrophic consequences it could have to an already delicate ecosystem.


BP have been working hard on creating an invaluable non-food crop that can be broken down into petrol and diesel, and they are claiming that they have found the right mix. If what BP say is true, and they do in fact have the ideal mix to create these crops, then not only will they make a serious amount of money, but we could also be seeing the future of biofuels and car travel, using a sustainable and eco-friendly petrol.

“Fish are friends”: what surfers could learn from Disney

Animations are lush backdrops of nature; Madagascar and a bunch of tear away lost New York Zoo animals, Finding Nemo and a father searching for his lost son. I love the messages in these films, respecting nature, diversity and rights of passage.
It’s not far from Madagascar on the island of La Réunion in the southern Indian Ocean three surfers have recently been killed by sharks. Allegedly the surfers have turned on the sharks and pressured the government to act, which they have and under duress captured 20 rare sharks for ‘scientific study’. Some surfers claim that other environmentally destructive practices such as commercial fishing are far worse than a few sharks being killed.

However deaths by sharks are not to be belittled, but many many more sharks die each year. You only need to look at the facts presented by PETA’s excellent Free The Sharks Week. From 1580 to 2007 there were 64 deaths from great white shark attacks reported. And last year alone humans killed 73 million sharks, all would have died horrible deaths without their fins, shipped off to make shark’s fin soup.

What makes this war on nature worse is that surfers are role models for nature. Look at Crush the surf dude turtle in Finding Nemo – the coolest character; “Now give me some fin”. Even Bruce the shark knows he needs to change himself and see “Fish as friends, not food”. Hard to believe but the Sharks have been around way longer than dinosaurs and surfers. The surfers of Le Réunion knew the risks. Advised not to surf late in the afternoon when shark’s are active (the two most recent death’s were late afternoon / sunset) and avoid surfing near river mouths – a favoured habitat of sharks. The worst part of this story

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aside from the deaths – is that you would think that surfers would understand the beauty of nature and the harmony man and nature can achieve together.

How can we help repair the damage caused by the UK summer weather?

What a truly miserable summer we are having. The persistence and sheer volume of rain that has continued to batter the UK throughout our summer has left us all moaning and groaning, in true British style. However, before we choose to grumble about being unable to go to the beach or go for a walk in the park, we should take a bit of time to identify the real victims of the weather. With the accursed Jet Stream set to soon move north, resulting in better weather, we should start looking at how we can help the victims.

Flood Victims: The rains have led to widespread floods all over the UK, causing serious damage to people’s personal and commercial property. The expected bill is set to be around £450 million of flood damage. While the insurance companies have pledged to help the victims, it could be up to a year until they receive these payments. National Flood Forum is a charity set up by flood victims to provide help and information for flood victims, so if you wish to help out the victims of the floods, you can donate to them online.

Copyright: DailyMail

British Wildlife: The torrid conditions have led to an ‘almost apocalyptic summer’ for some UK wildlife, according to the National Trust. The most seriously affected are sea and garden birds. The sea birds have been drowning in their burrows, whilst garden birds are unable to find food to feed their young. In order to help the birds, start setting up bird boxes in your gardens, to help provide safe shelter for them, whilst also putting up bird feeders to provide easy access to food. If you are feeling particularly generous, donating to the RSPB would be beneficial. Another species seriously affected are bees:

Bees: It’s been a bad year for bees. Over the winter, bee populations fell by 16.2% (according to the British Bee-keepers Association), and now the continuous heavy rain and cold temperatures has led to a further decline. Bees form an essential part of our economy, with bee pollination driving the agricultural industry. This most recent decline has led to an expected decrease in apple harvest of 50%, which directly results in massive profit losses for the UK apple market (which is worth £320m annually according to The Sunday Times). In order to help the bee populations to grow, garden owners should start planting bee friendly plants. Also start buying local honey to support your local beekeepers or become a ‘Bee Guardian’.

Business: The weather is having a derogatory effect on multiple UK businesses, below are a few examples:

  • Tourism – why would anyone choose to visit a country that suffers from torrential rain for their summer holidays? For example, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang has left the London weather to prepare for the Olympics in a much warmer country – Germany.
  • Farming – as mentioned above due to the decline in bee populations.
  • Summer retail sector – ranging from summer clothes, tents to gardening equipment.

So In order to help the farming and retail industry recover, we recommend you start buying locally. Buy UK produced food and clothes, as not only will this help the UK economy, it will also reduce carbon emissions.

So with the weather due to perk up, we wish you all a great summer, but please, take our advice and help out the real victims of the bad weather.

Maldivian Marine Sanctuary – A Political Distraction?

Newly elected Maldivian President Mohammed Waheed took Rio+20 as an opportunity to announce that by 2017, the Maldives will become the only country to be a marine reserve. The Maldives is well known for its golden sands, stunning marine life and clear blue skies; a true paradise. It is one of the last places in the world you would expect major political unrest. However through January and February in 2012, there were riots on the capital island Malé. The riots led to the resignation of President of Mohamed Nasheed (allegedly at gunpoint) and the induction of a new president Mohammed Waheed. However riots have continued. The announcement by Waheed that the Maldives will become full marine reserve has led to complaints that he has

done this as a distraction from the political issues the Maldives face.

While this may be engineered as a distraction, I welcome the announcement. It will make the Maldives the single largest marine reserve in the world, creating a policy that will only allow eco-friendly and sustainable fishing, protecting a very delicate and valuable ecosystem. This would prevent destructive fishing methods such as purse-seining. Due to the bad press that the Maldives has been receiving surrounding these riots, this news will help to get the tourism industry back on its feet, which is essential as the nation is heavily reliant on tourism as a main source of income.

We would love to see other countries take similar steps towards protecting their valuable marine ecosystems, including the UK. The Marine Conservation Society is currently pushing for 127 carefully selected sites to become Marine Conservation Zones (MPZ) in UK seas, which would allow marine habitats to regenerate after damage due to anthropogenic activities such as destructive fishing methods.

So whether this is a political distraction or not, I believe that this is a great step in securing a future for tourism and sustainable fishing within the Maldives, helping to secure jobs and incomes for the local population.

If you have any opinions or comments on this subject, we would love to hear from you.



Is Rio+20 providing the future for business sustainability?

With thousands of business and industrial CEOs descending on the Rio+20 conference, we believe that this is a great opportunity to raise awareness to the importance of sustainability within business and industry. When comparing the thousands of businesses that are attending Rio+20, to the 50 or so businesses that attended the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, it shows how much attitude in business has changed to sustainability.

So how can Rio+20 encourage business leaders to improve their focus on sustainability? We believe it must be made clear at Rio+20 that whilst businesses should be improving their own sustainability, they should also be making themselves into role models in sustainability to smaller businesses, customers and stakeholders. Businesses should be following the example set by companies such as M&S and their ‘Plan A’ initiative. GBM attended Marks & Spencer’s ‘Plan A’ Stakeholder Event yesterday and heard of substantial progress in lessening their environmental impacts.  More initiatives focusing on improving the social and economic conditions of their supply chain are currently underway, such as their Living Wage programme, which is aimed at increasing the pay and conditions in the factories that they use. On top of this they are engaging customers to join in with their push for improved sustainability through Shwopping. We at GBM would love to see M&S become a leader and encourage the retail sector to follow in their footsteps, through mentoring smaller businesses on how to improve their own sustainability.

It has been discussed that some businesses will be pushing for policies to be produced that will improve environmental quality and social benefits from economic growth at Rio+20. Policies like this will not only vastly improve sustainability within business, it will also pave the way for growth in the renewable energy market, the production of greener products, services and initiatives, as well as helping to create more jobs. We believe that policies regulating sustainability within business are severely lacking, with incentives for businesses to become sustainable mainly based on public pressure.

It will be interesting to see how the next Rio Summit in 20-30 years times differs from Rio+20. Will Rio+20 have set the sustainability world in motion, allowing the next summit to focus on improving on sustainable innovations? Or will Rio+20 fail to make an impact and the next summit be another attempt to kickstart the sustainability movement? We at GBM would like to see even more businesses attending; with more there to drive governments to introduce stricter regulations and legislations on sustainability. We would like to see more market leaders like M&S attending the conferences, steering business sustainability in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the Rio+20 summit, hopefully it will lead to the development of much needed governmental policies regulating the impact businesses have on the environment and society, paving the way for a more sustainable future within business.


Fed up with blaming government – read our PLANET manifesto

NEC’s Sustainability Live event was an experience.  Imagine an event that combines The Royal Tournament (soldiers racing to assemble canons) and Tomorrow’s World.   Some were bemused as to what this meant for their enterprise.   We think many already understand that our resources are dwindling and that renewable techs are good for the economy. Green Banana heard the old argument ‘without better government guidance, the green economy is doomed’, so we decided to produce our very own six point PLANET manifesto which would be ideal for enterprises to consider:

Preserve the future
Start by promising to support only FSC products and cut-back felling of the lungs of this world (which are responsible for picking up roughly a third of the carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels).  Then consider how much biodiversity supports us, for instance bees don’t only make honey – they support over 50% of agricultural pollination.

Local is best
Why not use council tax rebates to reward whole parishes for meeting recycling targets and individual householders for insulating their homes. After all 40% of emissions are through wall and roof cavities, so worth rewarding people with 20% off their council tax.

The big society starts locally – so let local communities profit from micro generation.  And why not reset solar and wind tariffs and communicate the benefits to the wider communities?

Allow freedom
Allow everyone to join an eco lab – employing our brightest unemployed young adults to generate ideas to address the sustainable crisis and give the winning inventors a 25% share.

New technologies
Embracing new technology is where new ways of living start, so encourage green electricity by giving SMEs 50% reduction on electric vehicles to be second phase ambassadors and plough money into creating high speed data connections for wireless meetings. Say no to expensive old technology – do we really need HS2 (costing £34 Billion) when we can meet virtually?

Eat responsibly
Adopt a few rules for eating.  Eat low on the food chain; eat tilapia – the world’s most sustainable fish.  Fish and chip shops will soon get the message and other fish will fry.

Travel lightly
Have walk to work months, with new lanes set up temporarily for ‘walking buses’.  Drive investment in new electric local transport, cycle lanes and walk to work schemes.

These are some of the ideas we are discussing with enterprises.  We would be interested in your thoughts.  We help evolve products and services to become smarter, greener and fairer. If you are asking how your company can be the more environmentally responsible, contact  We have worked with a range of socially responsible brands like Fairtrade and understand that achieving high ethical and sustainable standards is a journey.  Ask us how.  Giles Robertson is the founder of Green Banana Marketing Ltd and Chairman of the Marketing Society Charity Group.

We seek a dynamic Account Executive

A chance to work with environmentally focused start up, Green Banana Marketing, full-time or part-time, as an Account Executive, generous trainee salary (with an opportunity to earn good commission). You will be based in Waterloo, London.

If you’re interested in marketing and feel you have the ability to play an integral role in a growing company, then this role with Green Banana Marketing could be for you. Your work will be helping make the world smarter, greener and fairer.

You will be generating new business (for our core areas of expertise including marketing, stakeholder insights, partnership strategy and ethical / sustainable guides). We predominantly deal with ‘green’ companies’ or departments that promote sustainability, working with the education and charity sectors, stretching into the corporate arena.

We require an individual who can come up with ideas, has initiative, confidence, a friendly rapport-building persuasive telephone manner, with good drive.
You will

need to be able spot and create opportunities, think laterally, have some knowledge of marketing and an interest in green and sustainable business.

If you are motivated and have the above qualities then we would definitely like to hear from you at our small but growing company. Green Banana Marketing is in its fourth year and has a team of five very friendly people.

If you are interested in this opportunity with Green Banana Marketing then please look at our website and email your CV, outlining what you can offer to

Is Apple’s response to workers conditions good enough?

So Apple have announced the biggest audit of the conditions of its supply chain factories of its kind.  They are the first phone manufacturer to sign up to the Fair Labour Association (FLA).  Staff working in Foxconn, the factory used by Apple in China, have had pay rises, in some cases trebling pay over three years to 1,800 – 2,400 yuan a month, which is about £180 to £240.  First reports are that the factories are nice and clean.  The full report is due out in March and we wait with interest to see all the details.  At least something is being done, so can I breathe a sigh of relief?

Well, scratch a little deeper and you’ll see that the FLA have been involved with, up to now, audits of garment factories.  This is a sector with the most appalling reputation in many developing countries.  A computer factory is always going to be cleaner, as computers have to be made in the most sterile environment or they won’t work.

Photo: Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

ABC News’ Nightline TV programme in the US last night showed a documentary on the conditions of workers in an Apple factory.  The factory line is portrayed in its soulless and sterile state.  The workers are completely silent and the only voices are robotic.  The latest news is that Foxconn are considering investing millions in robotic automation.  I guess these robots won’t threaten to jump off the factory roofs, their legs won’t swell after standing for 14 hour shifts and they won’t be requiring social justice anytime soon.

How effective are the audits? The most publicised supplier up to now that has used FLA services is Nike, after a similar spate of bad publicity surrounding its workforce practice.   Their latest audit report reveals that there are still areas of health and safety and social security issues to be addressed.  So improvements take time.  Nike have a target of being fully compliant by 2013.

The supply chain of suffering extends to the Congo, where the highly toxic mineral, Coltan, core to the mobile phone industry, is mined often using child labour who die from disease, starvation and unsafe working conditions.

There are higher standards to aim for than the absence of cruelty and the meeting of basic human rights.   The ISO 26000 produced last year exhorts all businesses to show dignity and respect for their workers.  These things can’t be measured by a tickbox.

Voluntary standards have been adopted by other sectors. The Equator Principles introduced by the banking sector has raised awareness of environmental and social issues amongst businesses.  The Courtauld Agreement has members from  the retail sector who agreed to reduce their packaging.  This has had the result of avoiding over 1.2 million tonnes of food and packaging going to landfill.  I would like to see a similar pact amongst those producing computers and phones to reduce the mining impacts.  Fairtrade reduced the chemicals used in coffee production by 80%.  Let’s call on Apple to do the same for the mining of minerals used in hi- tech industries.

Apple have chosen an evocative image for its brand, all shiny, smelling of New York bustle and American home baked pies. Now the challenge is for Apple to embody the qualities that it so successfully projects.

I, as an Apple user, want to know that my phone is made with the least environmental damage and by a happy workforce. I’d like my phone maker to appear in the top environmental and ethical companies. I want to know that some of their lovely profit is being ploughed back into the communities who produce their polished products. I’d like a Coltan free phone, can Apple lead the way on this? When I sit down with a Fairtrade coffee to make a call I want to know that I am making a positive difference to someone’s life with my phone as well as my coffee.  Is that too much to ask?

If you are asking how your company can be the most ethically responsible it can be, contact  Green Banana Marketing has worked with socially responsible brands like Fairtrade and understands that companies need to practice what they promote and lead by example.  Achieving high ethical and sustainable standards is a journey and Green Banana Marketing is producing step-by-step guides to help you get to your destination. Ask us how.

Giles Robertson is the founder of Green Banana Marketing Ltd and Chairman of the Marketing Society Charity Group.

Emerging countries innovating could be our sustainable key

You don’t often leave a day’s conference with a Trashion bag made from recycled packaging. This was part of ‘turning waste into style’, one of Unilever’s initiatives harnessing local Indonesian creativity and creating 25 fashion lines from waste packaging.

Unilever’s Keith Weed pledged at The Marketing Society’s Annual Conference to halve emissions from his 4,000 products (as diverse as Marmite and Dove soap) by 2020. Who can blame him for injecting some creativity into embedding sustainability – it is now core to Unilever’s business. The scale of the challenge is clear with 68% of emissions coming from product use.

Imagining tomorrow’s products is one of their approaches (think Comfort’s One Rinse detergent which needs less water to wash clothes) alongside working with the right ‘expert’ NGO partners to help them on their journey.

As the global population booms and we see a shift of power from G7 to E7 countries, Keith said it is important for companies to be transparent (as people are increasingly interested in companies) and to be honest with what is achievable (if the whole planet lived like we do in the West we would need an extra three planets to support us).
The International Airlines Group CEO, Willie Walsh claimed reducing emissions could be achieved through the use of biomass plants to create aviation fuel and by rationalising air traffic control into one system, allegedly saving 12% of CO.  Perhaps more leadership in driving such innovation through to a workable proposal is needed from Willie himself?

Emerging economies such as Indian, China and Brazil are also key to addressing global sustainability.  Dr Tim Lucas from Sao Paolo’s The Listening Agency talked about Brazil’s uniqueness  – on track to be the fifth largest economy. Brands are respected and a fierce class hierarchy exists which has driven many companies to have sub brands to co-exist in completely different parts of town.  Perhaps a shared approach to product sustainability and recycling could unify company approaches- something few brands have attempted.

Ajayan Gopinathan from The Philosophers Stone discussed Indian’s motivations and desires. The world’s third largest economy is clearly enjoying a boom. 32% of the population are under 15 years of age and kid’s parent pester power is king when it comes to certain brands. Young people think they can do anything, an energy brands could harness for the good of the people and the planet.

Brands new to this market need to touch people with narrative stories that fuse cultures in sensitive and real ways. Indians are people oriented and very proud of their country.  Over 865 million have mobile phones and there are 400 TV channels – many of them local.

We’ve learnt from our work in emerging markets like China and Brazil that people care deeply about sustainability.  Companies who tailor their approach supported with on the ground projects making a real difference, stand to be part of the country’s fabric for the next decade.

Engage with climate change today to be more competitive tomorrow

It is comforting to know that although climate change has been pushed to the back pages of the newspapers, sustainability and climate change are still embraced by some and innovation led by others, as we heard at the Climate Week Stakeholder Reception and the Unilever sustainable living debate last week. 
There is desire that the Durban UN climate talks, beginning today (the 17th Conference of the Parties, ‘Cop17’), result in our government adopting a clear roadmap.

Interesting themes came from the discussions about what companies could and potentially should be doing with regard to sustainability and climate change at The Climate Week Reception and the Unilever sustainable living debate last week.

The Rt Hon John Gummer said companies should aspire to be forward thinking, linking with the next generation of businesses. They need to commit themselves to real and tangible on-the-ground activity as part of society’s response to climate change. As Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever said, companies more in touch with society by definition have a greater chance than their competitors for longer-term success (and survival). Tackling climate change is vital for future markets and emerging economies, increasingly important as Western companies look to South America, Asia and Africa for opportunities as their economies suffer.

Engaging with youths was seen as another way of getting involved, highlighted by Tony Juniper (Special advisor to Prince of Wales Sustainability Unit). When companies use powerful examples of their work, it can reconnect the current ‘disconnect’ between society and the environment, too often felt by many young people, and spread through communities like wildfire.

He further emphasised the need for forward thinking companies to engage with on the ground people and projects. A line of thinking that was also echoed in the Unilever discussion by Malina Mehra, CEO of Centre for Social Markets, who stressed the importance of creating an inter-generational dialogue when companies craft an approach to sustainability.

Increasingly, companies are looking to external bodies to help them achieve their climate change and sustainability goals.  Companies often look to specialist climate change experts within charities who have the credibility and on the ground projects to make an effective partner.

It may be time to discover how your organisation can do more in the pursuit of an innovation led sustainable business, which should help secure your future.

Poles apart – the slippery art of media climate scepticism

Launching at my client the British Council, the report was never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ in this ambitious report looking at climate scepticism in the world’s media (well big chunks of it including Brazil, China, France, India, the UK and the USA).

The economic downturn has been a diversion away from media reporting on climate change. The related issue about the lack of any media reporting on climate change was noted and that when it is reported, Climate scepticism seems to make for a better headline.

The world is a much tougher place for anything to do with the environment or climate change – not just with news coverage, but for funding and advocacy work.  Many organisations have moved CSR and sustainability to be part of product innovation (looking at supply chain and procurement). The focus is now on hard sales. All this is an important backdrop for the British media (and its increasingly negative reporting).

The launch by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (executive summary can be downloaded here) examined 3,000 articles from two newspapers in each country. It was really the tip of the media iceberg without looking at broadcast media and the direct roles of world leaders such as Obama, Sarkosy and Cameron.

The Anglo Saxon media are the most climate sceptic (The Express had the most at 50%) followed by the US, who are twice as wedded to fossil fuels.

In contract the French media have a deep-rooted trust of scientists and therefore do not question as much (the facts speak for themselves with their 80% reliance on nuclear).

It is also interesting that China’s media tend not to question the science but to focus on what can be done to deal with climate change.  Maybe there’s something to learn from them?

One wonders where newsrooms editors can go with climate change – the discourse seems to have been locked out while Rome burns.

Higher tuition fees will kill entrepreneurialism

Ever increasing student debts are beginning to affect the entrepreneurial spirit of our next generation. Students leaving university with up to £38,000 of debt (tuition fees are set to rise to a maximum of £9,000) will not foster a spirit of entrepreneurialism. It’s a far cry from the £1,000 overdraft I left with in 1991.

The higher fees worry me for two reasons. The higher fees mean only the more affluent will attend Uni and many less

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well off (but equally capable) students will be deterred by the increase in fees. A great swathe of future Bill Gates will be missed (and he has mentioned the importance of his university education). The genuinely talented may just miss the opportunity to develop their skills. We know two of the highest profile entrepreneurs – Lord Sugar and Sir Richard Branson – made it without a degree (but starting your career by selling car aerials out of a van is not for everyone).

Secondly, more sponsorship opportunities will become available to students, which itself may become a barrier to the spirit of entrepreneurialism. Graduates will increasingly be contracted to work for their sponsoring company for a set period of time (and rather like women tied into maternity pay, may not want to break the contract). Life for graduates will become a higher rental agreement. Some firms are even offering to pay for post A level training schemes as an alternative to Uni, which claims to train people to the same level as if they went to Uni (again tying them into a firm and preventing potential entrepreneurs going for it).

Students starting in 1998 didn’t have to pay tuition fees and means tested grants of up to £1,710 were available. Graduates left university without high student debts and were more able to take risks if they so desired and pursue endeavours for entrepreneurial success.

In contrast students applying in 2012 will graduate shouldering a large debt. It’s difficult to raise the funds and support to set up a business, which makes working for someone else a more appealing option.

Unis are not for everyone and it doesn’t guarantee a bright future. But everyone should have a chance. Lord Sugar hypothetically wouldn’t have benefited from being tied into a ten-year higher payment scheme for his first van.

Celebrating WWF’s 50 years of great marketing

As WWF, one of the world’s most recognised and trusted environmental organisations, celebrates its half-century we look back at its marketing successes.

Great marketing and campaigns have helped define WWF’s place in the 21st century from the early 60’s, moving   sustainability from the fringes to the mainstream of public debate. In 1961 when WWF was formed the Daily Mirror published a front page about the dire situation facing endangered species, bringing the charities work to the public’s attention for the first time.

More recently Earth Hour has become an annual event, launching in 2007 in Sydney (2.2 million participants and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change). A year later, it became a global movement with over 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness.

In 2007 British endurance swimmer and WWF ambassador Lewis Pugh became the first person to swim at the North Pole in order to highlight the rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice and to urge UK carbon emissions targets to be improved. It was a serious stunt to highlight a serious issue, as Pugh braved temperatures of minus -1.8ºC the coldest waters ever swum by a human.

In 2009 the Pandamonium exhibition saw the iconic image of the WWF panda transformed in a fresh contemporary twist. The familiar panda collection boxes were retired in 2007 but had a second life as artists and designers including Sir Peter Blake, Tracey Emin and Paul Smith turned them into unique art pieces on the theme of climate change. The pieces were then auctioned at Selfridges.

WWF’s web and social media involve the public in huge variety of issues. The 135,000 unique users each month prove that the Panda’s appeal is enduring.  Simple and accessible, ‘The Panda Made Me Do It’ site offers the chance for individuals and organisations to choose activities from adopting, sponsoring, signing petitions, campaigning and taking part in the Blue Mile and then sharing their experiences via Facebook and Twitter.

With the One Planet Olympics, WWF teamed up with the organisers of London 2012 Olympics to promote global awareness of sustainability. WWF enters its 51st year helping deliver a sustainable 2012 Olympic games – minimising their impact on the planet. Well done to Team Panda for a good first innings.

As WWF, one of the world’s most recognised and trusted environmental organisations, celebrates its half-century we look back at its marketing successes.  Great marketing and campaigns have helped define WWF’s place in the 21st century from the early 60’s, moving sustainability from the fringes to the mainstream of public debate. In 1961 when WWF was formed the Daily Mirror published a front page about the dire situation facing endangered species, bringing the charities work to the public’s attention for the first time.

More recently Earth Hour has become an annual event, launching in 2007 in Sydney (2.2 million participants and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change). A year later, it became a global movement with over 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness.

In 2007 British endurance swimmer and WWF ambassador Lewis Pugh became the first person to swim at the North Pole in order to highlight the rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice and to urge UK carbon emissions targets to be improved. It was a serious stunt to highlight a serious issue, as Pugh braved temperatures of minus -1.8ºC the coldest waters ever swum by a human.

In 2009 the Pandamonium exhibition saw the iconic image of the WWF panda transformed in a fresh contemporary twist. The familiar panda collection boxes were retired in 2007 but had a second life as artists and designers including Sir Peter Blake, Tracey Emin and Paul Smith turned them into unique art pieces on the theme of climate change. The pieces were then auctioned at Selfridges.

WWF’s web and social media involve the public in huge variety of issues. The 135,000 unique users each month prove that the Panda’s appeal is enduring.  Simple and accessible, ‘The Panda Made Me Do It’ site offers the chance for individuals and organisations to choose activities from adopting, sponsoring, signing petitions, campaigning and taking part in the Blue Mile and then sharing their experiences via Facebook and Twitter.

With the One Planet Olympics, WWF teamed up with the organisers of London 2012 Olympics to promote global awareness of sustainability. WWF enters its 51st year helping deliver a sustainable 2012 Olympic games – minimising their impact on the planet. Well done to Team Panda for a good first innings.

Future of fishing: last chance to save fish stocks

In my capacity as Trustee of the Marine Conservation Society I attended the coalition of the UK’s leading environmental and conservation organisations, including WWF, Greenpeace, RSPB, Marine Conservation Society (MCS), ClientEarth, nef (new economics foundation), and OCEAN2012, response to the UK Government and the publication of the reform proposals. The coalition delivered their joint objectives for the Common Fisheries Policy to key decision-makers at the Zoological Society of London last night. The UK fisheries minister, Richard Benyon MP delivered the government’s response. Fisheries campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who led the FishFight campaign, responded in relation to discards.

  • The current proposal fails to:
  • Put the environment first for people’s sake
  • Provide tools to reduce capacity in line with the available resources
  • Make access to resources conditional on social and environmental criteria

The NGOs asked the UK Government to ensure a Common Fisheries Policy that delivers rather than undermines. On behalf of the NGO coalition, Ian Campbell added: “A reformed Common Fisheries Policy must establish a new way to distribute access to fish. Sustainability criteria should be used to rank access to resources, favouring those who employ methods which have the least impact on marine habitats and non-target species, are most selective, most fuel-efficient, and those who can demonstrate strong legal compliance and operate within and contribute to coastal communities.”

The groups said despite some positive measures, such as the commitment to stock recovery by 2015, there were too many shortcomings that if not addressed by Ministers and MEPs, could undermine any chance of meaningful reform. A reformed CFP must:

  • Put the environment first to make sure that fish stocks, the marine environment and fisheries can thrive
  • Set legally binding sustainable fishing levels that cannot be exceeded by law-makers or fishers
  • Eliminate discards
  • Deliver transparent decision-making and reporting processes to measure performance
  • Properly address the issue of overcapacity in the European fleet

Reacting to the Commission’s announcement, UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon MP said that his number one priority was eliminating discards and ensuring that the Marine Act overcame the many silos that are associated with fisheries policy and to deliver a reform of the ‘broken’ Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Debbie Crockard, Fisheries Policy Officer of the Marine Conservation Society said:

“It is outrageous that we are paying for sound scientific advice to be conducted by world experts, only for it to be disregarded as the baseline for stock management. Scientific advice must be considered the most important driver for sustainable fisheries management.”

The Marine Conservation Society’s new Good Fish Guide launches

As a Trustee of MCS I am pleased to say that the excellent new Good Fish Guide has been launched – with a new print pocket Good Fish Guide here and new website.   A huge amount of work goes into assessing over 150 species and numerous stocks of each fish, drawing on myriad sources of information.  The pocket guide has already been downloaded many times by the public.  Now the work has been done, please do your bit for our seas. Fish are disappearing fast from our seas and you can make a difference by simply making more sustainable choices when buying seafood.

Despite the competition for media this week, there has been some good coverage about MSC new guide:-

Supermarkets criticised for ‘poor and confusing’ fish labelling

The Guardian – ‎May 4, 2011‎

Fish retail labels ‘inadequate’

BBC News – ‎May 4, 2011‎

The greenest ever government puts the planet at the bottom of its list

It’s a crying shame that yesterday’s budget did nothing to help build the UK’s global position on sustainability.  Let’s think of the missed opportunities, the 18,000 miles of shoreline we have here, our thriving innovation sector (according to NESTA’s Innovation Report the spend is £15.5bn representing 1.1% of UK GDP) and the growing number of people travelling by bus, train and bike.  If you combine this with the sizeable group who are out of work (1.45 million) and looking to get back into the work place, in the words of Ann Pettifor, an alternative economist, and brilliant Founder of Jubilee 2000 there is a solution, “we have the highest youth unemployment in history. How foolish to suggest we can’t afford to use the energy, talents and skills of young people to tackle climate change.”

The announcement of an additional 80,000 work experience places for young people and an additional 50,000 apprenticeship places in the words of Ann Pettifor it is ‘foolish’ that we are not harnessing their energy and skills to be part of a new economy less reliant on oil.

Although the Chancellor made much of “start-up Britain”, he did little to encourage green enterprise; the Green Investment Bank, which is a great idea, will not be lending until 2015, which is not good news if you are a fledgling clean technology company getting off the ground.  Some of the measures eased the pain on consumers of the high price of fuel and will be popular (and headline grabbing) but the reality is we’ll save about 50 pence for every fill up. It’s head in the sand stuff and will do nothing to wean the UK off our dangerous reliance on oil.

We need a long-term strategy for an efficient, low-carbon transport system.  Investing £200 million for the funding of new rail projects is a drop in the ocean. Tax breaks and incentives could have been offered for companies investing in new energy technologies that would attract city funding, turning this new economy into reality. But given that the new Green Investment Bank won’t start lending until 2015, we may have to wait for the next Greenest Government.

Engaging people in sustainability (over a cup of Yorkshire)

I have always thought that ‘seeing is believing’ when it comes to comprehending man’s impact on the environment and understanding what can be done to make a difference. Museums such as the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and At Bristol have effectively used this approach for many years. People like to see things for themselves and to make their own connections from the facts. With this in mind, you often see an increased interest in man’s likely impact on our planet after big natural disasters such as New Orleans and the recent floods in Queensland. However, it is often less easy to see the impact of man’s degradation on the natural environment until it is too late. Now and again we have a wake up call with a species becoming extinct like the Golden Toad in Costa Rica.

Increased weather disasters and the depletion of natural resources are part of this changing world we inhabit. We can’t keep taking from our planet in the way that we have become accustomed – there just aren’t enough fish left in the sea (or oil left in the ground) to meet our demand. The break point could be as near as 2050 when the main global oil reserves become depleted. Innovation, it is hoped, will increase as ‘stocks’ dwindle. We know that when commodities are scarce people become more resourceful. Therefore innovation should pique with new solutions to help us lead lives that are more in harmony with the planet in the next decade. Today I found inspiration in the most unlikeliest of places- from Yorkshire tea, yes that’s right the great British cuppa. They’ve decided to go out to people where tea is scarce in a US style road trip. Expat communities around the world can prepare themselves for the great Yorkshire tea ice-cream van – ‘little urn’. It’s not a bad idea for us environmentalists, why not have pop-up top ten tips stores and drive through Eco centres around the big cities to explain the simple changes you can make in your daily lives (and how these can impact on our planet). You might even get a free ‘seeing is believing’ cuppa!

Environmental change driven by charities or companies?

This has been on mind with the ‘Big Society’ (BS), using local leaders, who ever they are? “We are at the foothills of dealing with the challenge of climate change and need business to take the lead” said the then Secretary for the Environment, Margaret Becket, six years ago in her quest to accelerate emissions cuts from corporates. Like the BS she tried to take the very best and hoped that others would follow, but it didn’t quite work out.  Businesses need frameworks and incentives to innovate. If they can make a difference that is distinctive, competitive and generates income then they’re in.  We’ve seen M&S Plan A, Wall Mart’s commitment to sustainable fish, The Co-Op’s ethical services and Cadbury’s commitment to Fairtrade cocoa from Ghana.  These are having impact but alongside the others, who are doing less, are tiny. Environmental charities only have one agenda and that is to achieve change. They have passionate supporters, about 6.5 million of the main ones, who believe in what the charities are doing. Charities are not afraid to campaign against environmental injustices like dangerous chemicals, drive real change with initiatives like the Marine Stewardship Council, force new legislation like the Marine Bill and the Wildlife Trade Act. But perhaps more importantly 7% of England (or 22,556,352 acres) is made up of charity run land, managed by the National Trust, RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands and the Church of England. Collectively these spaces have inspired and changed many people’s views.  You won’t hear about a Fizzy Drink Company stopping one of it’s Fizzy drinks to enable it to fund a local beach clean up or to support a local wood. That’s because most company environmental policies are internally focused, short-term and about sorting out their own mess, rather than helping others. Therefore the real powerhouse of environmental change has come from environmental charities, focused on long-term change, rather than the corporate big boys.

The changing face of Development: the role of the private sector

Care International hosted this debate about the private sector’s role in development, testament to their ‘sleeves up’ approach to fighting poverty in over 70 countries. Early on in this discussion, chaired by Alistair Stewart from ITN, we heard that things have changed; no longer do committed companies trot out a CSR report with a yearly update to the board. Kraft’s Associate Director Cadbury Cocoa Partnership said that this approach was no longer enough –support needed to be about deep partnerships with the locals. Moving beyond the ‘extract and sell’ philosophy dominant in the past, innovation is rife including Vodafone’s work in Tanzania, mobile phone banking and local micro finance schemes. But few people have heard about these schemes. People are inspired by ideas and stories which represents a much-needed new face to development. Africa is often portrayed in one dimension and addressing people’s perceptions was seen as key. Communicating entrepreneurial schemes is surely the gateway to mobilising more private support. There is little collaboration and sharing of experiences between corporations and NGOs. The evening also touched on some of the other challenges of private sector investment in countries like Rwanda, such as the increased violence against women who gain an increased income, the environmental balance between local product sourcing and assisting development needs, and being realistic about what the private sector can deliver – it’s unlikely to take over the social services. Craig Hardie, who set up Malawi Mangoes three and half years ago after a senior career in Marketing, believes that by looking after the smallhoder farms (with profits fed back into the community, improving their provisions), you also maintain the quality of the fruit. From Mangoes to cocoa – new models like this are addressing development issues and with over 2.6 billion people living on less than two dollars a day, let’s hope others follow.

Ants, bees, BP and eels

The planet is amazing with a precise order about things- everything knows what it is doing, like ants marching to their nest.  Watching six workmen in Kennington peer into their massive trench, scratching their heads and looking confused about what to do next, reminded me that we haven’t got a clue what we are doing to the planet.  We are out of control. We dabble with things, break them and upset the natural rules.  Like performing open heart surgery fifteen hundred metres below sea level, BP are trying to mend what they have already broken in the middle of the deep sea.  Eleven men have died and scores of animals are gulping in the peculiar blood coloured surface water, and the Vice President of BP said they were capturing a hundred thousand barrels a day – any more would risk contamination with water.  This must represent a turning point for US energy policies and our over-reliance on fossil fuels.  There may even be a revolt over BP’s massive error, experimenting with our planet.  A black mark the size of Luxembourg in the Gulf of Mexico has led to one group clamouring for the ‘death penalty’ for BP.  The natural order of the planet has a harmony that is impossible to replicate. We must learn from this and know that we lose this at our peril. Ants have been marching their path, bees have been dancing their dance and European Eels swimming their miraculous life swim from the Sargasso Sea for millions of years, and yet the precarious technique of deep sea oil drilling has only been going for fifty years.

Iceland cloud signals change

Intriguing global events over the last week – from volcanoes to X factor style leaders’ debates. I’ve been disappointed at the lack of response from environmental groups over the knock-on effects of the volcanic activity. The cloud and its devastating effects on travel and business is a potent symbol of things to come. We all know our oil is running out.  And it might be that the air industry are losing £130 million a day because of the volcano, but the truth is we need to look at the very real impacts our lifestyles are having on the planet. I’m not underestimating the unpleasantness of those 150,000 or so stuck in some far away airport ‘lounge’, but once everybody is safely home there are some lessons to reflect on. First, it’s proof that we can accommodate massive change when we need to. As the ash cloud continues its path, we will be reminded of the ridiculous lengths we go to for certain exotic food items, as they begin to run out. What cost are we prepared to pay for exotic air freighted flowers? Perhaps ‘One Planet’ shopping is worth a go- seasonally available foods and enjoying our country’s produce (also encouraging beautiful countryside at the same time). Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the air quality is currently much better in and around Heathrow and Stanstead. The heavenly silence is also a blessing – you can hear nature in new ways; it just feels better not having planes droning overhead every minute. Some people have actually managed to have a full night’s sleep for the first time in years. But the most important lesson here is who is really in control of this globe. The Planet has reminded us who is in charge with a most unlikely of signals which we need to heed.

A night with Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO Starbucks

I haven’t been in a Starbucks for years – but clearly 15 million people a week do. Howard Shultz, the 56 year old New Yorker seemed relaxed to tell his story about how Starbucks has grown to 16,000 stores globally. He grew up in a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn, in the equivalent of a council house. And regrets going public with the company in 1992, to pay back early investors. He is man who loves what he does and is on a mission to reengage staff with the customer.

In front of an audience of some 500 top UK marketers at a Marketing Society event, he said he knew nothing about traditional business or marketing when he began in 1982.  He failed to inspire the then owners to sell a ‘Milan style’ coffee experience, unheard of in the US at that time, alongside selling their staple of coffee beans. He left and started his own café called Il Giornale and a few years later took over Starbucks. He has strived to create a company with a soul. There have been detractors along the way; a constant target for anti-globalists and 16,000 employees started a campaign to get union rights in the US.  More recently in the UK there was ‘dipper wellsgate’ in 2008, were stores were exposed for using continuous fresh-running water to clean utensils (although they’ve stopped now). Howard isn’t afraid to speak his mind, upsetting Lord Mandelson with recent remarks about the UK being in an economic “spiral” down.

He is experimenting to recreate ‘the community’ (very much the early focus) that many feel has been lost; the new London store in Conduit Street has second hand furniture.  And stores have even gone unbranded in NY trials, selling alcohol and opening late. A challenging job when you are in 44 countries with a US centric view. Consultants said it would fail in Japan where they have just opened their 1,000th store. Howard was quick to defend his CSR – not as marketing, but as the heart of the company.  He was surprised by a question from Café Direct about how they were supporting African workers and their plans for Fairtrade tea.  Tea is 1.5% of total sales and he explained their conversion to Fairtrade coffee  last year.  RED featured heavily in how the company is ‘bigger than coffee’. As did the campaign to encourage young Americans to use their vote last January.  And Weyclef’s film asked people to get behind the Haiti campaign.   Our host said ‘London was the world capital of cynicism’.  I was surprised he didn’t feel the need to explain the inter related elements of all the good work they are doing. He mentioned micro lending, water projects and that the ‘coffee for a votes’ scheme would run during our general election. I hope these are the bedrock of their business and not just new fads.  Starbucks could mean much more. Ethical Consumer ranked them at the bottom of the café survey in 2005, which demonstrates how much still has to be told about the Starbuck story.  Particularly in the UK.

What to do to help the environment

Happy New Year. Why not start 2010 by making the following positive changes:
1.    Reduce eating meat. BBC Bloom say giving up meat could save 15 times as much CO2 as switching electricity tariffs! Approximately 17-30 % of global CO2 (growing, producing, importing – rising if you include deforestation) comes from meat production
2.    Design your living and work around the most beneficial natural lighting / heating; which could mean using 75% less energy
3.    Get a green tariff like Good Energy (which sells 100% renewable). Even better, club together with neighbours and micro-generate from the wind and sun, reducing reliance on dirty power
4.    Turn off power when not needed: appliances on stand-by need 20% of their full power
5.    Install meters to measure your water and energy: monitor the ‘bandwidth’ you want to be in and try and reduce how much you use
6.    Buy FSC certified paper and MSC certified fish: both guarantee sourcing from well-managed, sustainable stocks
7.    ‘Buycott’ – being the opposite of boycott – support products which are making a difference environmentally and socially such as Fairtrade products: particularly where tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate are concerned, benefiting workers in the global South
8.    Eat and drink the view. Eating locally produced organic foods not only limits how far your food has travelled but also protects our rolling green countryside. Riverford deliver the best boxes fresh to your door with recipe ideas
9.    Stop washing your clothes so much – do all those shirts need to be washed and ironed every day?  Those towels could be used for one more day? Then save energy and wash them at 30°C rather than 40°C, reducing the electricity by around 40%

UK charities must learn for the next recession

It’s been a tough year for most of the 170,000 UK charities.  Increased financial pressures and for some, mergers and closures. Cash struck charities are experiencing a downturn like no other. Redundancies have been up to 35% and Oxfam, NSPCC, Christian Aid and CAFOD are the latest to announce staff cut backs. Legacy giving has dropped like a cold stone, with reduced property value directly hitting charities’ income. And we now know that individual donations declined as much as 11 per cent last year.

But there is some good news; supporters with strong relationships to their chosen charity are continuing their support – good old brand values are still key to maintaining engaged and happy people.  Similarly, corporate partnerships have gone from strength to strength where close and meaningful relationships exist with the given charity.  Although, it has to be said, times are much tougher for corporate events.

Also, where there have been a few new hirings, a couple of forward looking charities have specifically targeted recruitment materials to attract new blood from outside the sector.   This is by no means a new trend, but it is interesting to see a more active approach to attracting new people.

Finally, good news for media costs which have plummeted affording many the opportunity to leverage some nifty marketing for less money.  There is also a trend for more charities to do their own design and digital work internally.

So what are the lessons for the next recession? To develop deep and meaningful relationships with all your current supporters, demonstrating the value and difference their support brings. It is also wise not be too reliant on any one income source, allowing a diverse income portfolio to protect you during the less good periods. Finally, having a clear and robust talent strategy will help with any changes needed to the work force; ask yourself who are the rising stars you would like to keep and where do you need fresh talent from outside the sector?

Should corporates put more money into charities?

I chaired a debate last night as part of the Marketing Society’s not for profit group. Leading the opposition was Chris Macleod, Head of Group Marketing at Transport for London, London’s largest advertiser. Seconded by expert Richard Harrison, Director of Research at The Charities Aid Foundation, working to create greater value for charities and transforming the way donations are made. And finally Neil Boorman writer, journalist and consultant, who famously lived without brands for a year.

Supporting the motion was Dax Lovegrove, Head of Business and Industry at WWF responsible for developing corporate relationships with the likes of M&S, challenging unsustainable practices. With seconder Maya Prabhu, Senior Philanthropy Adviser from Coutts & Co, where she advises and creates strategies for family foundations and also ensure issues and causes are understand. And finally, on the team Paul Farthing, High Value Relationships Director at Cancer Research UK, one of the UK’s biggest charities with over £420m income raised last year.

The debate was won by the team supporting the motion stating that the big NGOs had the expertise to address the big global challenges like CO2 emissions, AIDS and water scarcity. More cash would enable solutions to be found, developing new systems working with corporates to potentially ‘future proof’ our planet’s resources. Of the £44billion income received by UK charities only a 20th comes from corporates, is that too much to expect? The opposing team said that corporations weren’t set up to give money in this and they too called for a new model which moved away from the old fashioned ‘alms house’ giving to new ways to embed within business with better accountability at its heart. Also only the cuddly popular charities would survive – what about the less appealing causes? And shouldn’t corporate tax been used to address some of these issues?

Recyclage de luxe may inspire others

Hats off to the new environmental campaign ‘recyclage de luxe’ from Stella Artois. Retro ads for recycled packaging, glass, and aluminum are now up, mainstreaming its efforts behind recycling. Having firmly established itself as ‘reassuringly expensive’ (albeit 2 cases are available for £16), with rather unfortunate associations with being the ‘wife beater’s beer”, it feels right expressing its environmental credentials in this way. Few businesses have the credibility or balls to do this; it’s too complicated and why bother putting your head above the parapet? Stella have told the interconnected story of waste and material use and made it central to their offering, bringing some much needed style to recycling.

The ads are good too with retro French mono tones, the packaging for each carved out of 60s fashioned materials including the can from a cool Citroen DS, film noir posters with a Twiggy style women and the glass forged from an old school tellie screen. I love the effort Stella have made and hope this approach inspires others. It’s a shame that more don’t talk about their environmental work. Although, of course the packaging only tells half the story; ‘beer miles’ are increasingly a critical environmental factor as well, many imported lagers could have traveled up to 24,000 miles before reaching you (with climate change, transporting liquids long distances is environmental madness). The best beers are those that have been produced locally to you. But of course Stella is only brewed across the Channel in Belgium. It will be interesting to see how Stella develop this campaign and whether InBev, who own Stella, take a holistic green look across all their beers. But any company that makes a difference to the planet gets my vote and should be supported by all beer drinkers.

Windy McDonalds maybe the answer

Achieving lower carbon emissions by 2020 is no easy feat. The government’s recent white paper has real targets and new ideas. But the main concern is that industry have been left off.  The market does require incentives for industry to make the investments in new technologies.

Ed Millband predicts up to 400,000 new green jobs will be created by 2015 (rising to 1.2 million by 2020). Difficult to imagine in face of the closure of the wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight. The Danish company, Vestas Wind Systems, plans to make 625 workers redundant at the end of July, despite rising profits and strong demand. The UK just won’t be able to scale up renewable energy projects. There are only 2,500 wind turbines in the UK – we should be the global leaders in wind turbine technology.

Which brings me back to companies – many of whom are already leading in the field of energy saving technologies.  But I can’t help thinking that McDonalds could hold the winning card – transforming our relationship with energy and food. Imagine the restaurants in 5 years time; powered by renewable energy, meat and veg that is sourced from the very best British farmers.  The message would be all about eating what’s in our back yard and using micro generation to power their sites.  Now that would make me start buying burgers for my kids. British farmers, the energy story, and addressing obesity –  something that would make a real difference.  They too have finally been hit by the credit crunch, Mr Ronald McDonald it could be time for change, a new name and government grants for Mr McDaylight. Now that would help hit Millband’s new green jobs target.

Art of climate change

Artists all over the world have responded to climate change. Whether it’s feelings of dislocation on seeing giant snowballs melting in the City of London, made by Andy Goldsworthy in the Arctic and brought back to slowly melt in the urban City heat or seeing the inspiring and diverse responses of the artists traveling on a ship to see the Arctic melt and the effects of climate change first hand. Endangered Species; bone shapes caught in a last gasp movement by the infamous contemporary dance choreographer, Siobhan Davis and Antony Gormely’s cast in the Arctic snow, are quite different interpretations.  Interestingly Ian McEwen’s only non visual expression most accurately describes the devastating effects of climate change.  He capture the very real sense of the planet’s degradation at our hands. Each artist creates their own unique vision.

The artists demonstrate how difficult it is to have a common vision or language for something as complicated as climate change.  It doesn’t require a deeper knowledge and its so all encompassing from coral bleaching, that has seen an unprecedented increase in the last two decades to the eventual extinction of certain plant and animal species by up to 50% in 50 years. The Arctic sea ice will completely disappear during the summer months by 2080, making future artist trips very different.

Climate change touches us all in different ways and it’s our responsibility to respond in whatever way we can.    Previous civilizations like the Mayans who failed to collectively respond to nature’s challenge, ultimately failed. So it is my belief that we should make every effort to celebrate everyone’s contribution to making a real difference to climate change, their art of climate change.

MP expenses; a move from conspicuous consumption to conspicuous contribution

Like me, you were probably initially incensed by the MP expenses scandal.  Now after five weeks I’m bored of the story and would like to know what the plans are for moving this forward in away that is workable and hopefully something that we all feel we can trust in.

After five weeks people do still have an appetite for more, but how long can it run?  The original circulation of The Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph was boosted by around 700,000 copies after two weeks, but initial gains in readership must surely be tailing off, with the paper now boxed into an interesting spot in terms of what it does next.

The bigger potential learning from this story is the importance of organisations having a clear and transparent approach to its policies. The MP’s expenses was such a hot potato as it came at a time when other people were losing their jobs, cutting corners on their own expenses and dreading, in some cases, what is coming next.

As governments and corporations focus their agendas on development and climate change issues, it is critical that these are thorough and cohesive across the whole operation.  As our natural resources become even more depleted and carbon rations a part of every day, consumers will be very unforgiving of organisations that say one thing and do another behind closed doors.

As we come out of the current economic downturn, more and more people will be moving away from conspicuous consumption to conspicuous contribution.  People will want to know more about the companies they have a relationship with. It won’t be good enough to simply sell products and services. The critical policies around supply chains, what impact certain product categories have on the environment will be the make or break of tomorrow’s companies and more importantly, those companies who are the most open, transparent and consistent will win.

An Olympian chance for change

McCann Erickson have been appointed by 2012 London Games to be the official game’s marketing agency.

Reports say agencies were less than keen to put their hats in the ring for this monumental task of exciting people and of course selling 9.5 million tickets.

Was their reluctance a response to the size of the task alongside the challenge of trying to please everyone all the time (look at the fuss at the new 2012 logo!) with the poor remuneration deal? London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) is offering Tier Three Sponsorship in return for pro bono agency services, just as the economic down turn hits ad land.

Mad Men I despair there’s such a potentially inspiring vision to share. Firstly, we have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that we are the best and can pull off an event like no other. And win some medals. Secondly, it could be the first one planet games with zero carbon emissions, making a real pledge for a healthier planet, inspiring others to follow suit. Thirdly, being a healthier nation also fits in the lead up to, during and after the games. The best way to shift those ever increasing teen pounds is to engage and uplift them all with the very real thought of future gold; the chance to actually watch history in the making – to run on the very same track and swim in the very same lanes. Finally, the whole lasting legacy story is the perfect bitter pill to swallow for the UK tax payer and particularly Londoner’s who are baring the brunt of the costs.

So much about our 2012 London games is truly brilliant; what a shame more haven’t seen the chance.

Swine Flu on You Tube?

Pandemics are not new. The 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic killed between 20 and 100 million people; 1957, and the 1968 pandemic killed approximately 1 million; SARS in Asia in 2003; plus, we also live with AIDS, TB and malaria pandemics.

What has changed is our awareness of them and consequently our responses. It is therefore fascinating how the UK government have communicated the latest outbreak using TV spots, ads, leaflets (the Royal Mail must be delighted) and letters / telephone calls from schools, all of which are very costly. Why not radio and digital encouraging people to download the leaflet? Alleyn’s School shut due to the virus and none of the kids in my local park had heard about it through social networks (just when we needed Flash on You Tube!).

I do like the slogan; ‘Catch it. Bin it. Kill it’, appropriately dramatic. And the prevention of the spread seems clear:

1. Wash your hands.
Stupidly simple response, but compulsive hand-washing prevents the spread. It’s the droplets that spread the disease. These get on our hands and everything we touch. Wash your hands as if you work in a hospital or operating room using hot water, soap.

2. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Influenza is spread with droplets that come out of your mouth or nose.

3. Stay home.
If you’re sick, and wash your hands

4. Don’t touch your face.
Keep your hands out of your eyes, nose and mouth — direct routes to the bloodstream that allow a virus to bypass the barrier of the skin.

5. Avoid sick people
Liquid droplets tend to settle on objects— things that people touch including coins, hand rails, and door knobs.


Scientific evidence shows that face masks don’t protect people from becoming infected.

Greenwash and whitewash – they’re all awash

Surely this must mean the term ‘greenwash’ has become truly mainstream, with a play in its namesake just finishing at The Orange Tree Theatre. A farce set in Bush’s second term, where PR culture has leaked into the very fabric of the US — spin doctors seducing environmentalist activists, and politics swamped by lies and the peddling of greenwash.

Greenwash is a term that has widely been in use for over two decades. It was first coined by an American Environmentalist who was sick of the green claims made by hotels with their ‘re-use your towels’ schemes, which often purported to be for environmental reasons. It has since become widely used to describe companies and organisations who take on green initiatives on a superficial level only.

The expression has its routes in the idea of quickly presenting an acceptable front. Like the description of white washing, it too is a quick fix. But also has the other meaning of one person or team completely beating another, without the losing team so much as gaining a point.

Here’s the interesting connection between white and green wash; the team taking the beating is usually, but not always the weaker, less skilled team. Likewise with greenwash, it is usually applied to organisations taking a weaker, less skilled and less thorough line on green issues. It also tends to fit with companies that are very powerful in their sector and usually — but not always — companies doing the most damage environmentally.

Oh how we white wash the environment with greenwash…