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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.

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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!
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Date: 13th March 2015Time: 4 – 5 pmLocation: 02 Workshop229 Tottenham Court RdLondon

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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.

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

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.

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…