Category: Ethics

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

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,

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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?


Happy Christmas from Green Banana Marketing

GBM Christmas card 2014

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.



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.

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.

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.

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.