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A Monster of a Promotional Event

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Annually, Monster Energy Drink sponsors the AMA motocross race tournaments and many professional riders. It is a strategy Monster has used for years to gain popularity with potential consumers and build brand loyalty, which has proven very successful.

Knowing and delivering what its target audience values, Monster sponsors the motocross pit along with the races that it sponsors. The pit is complete with rider meet-and-greets and brand booths set up with plenty of merchandise and free promotional premiums.

The best part about the Monster pit is that pit passes are free to any race-goes who bring an empty Monster can to “redeem” or recycle. Beaming fans eagerly spoke about the fun they experienced in the pit as they reported their experiences to an ESPN reporter during the 2013 X-Games.

As the X-Games is often referred to as the Super Bowl of extreme sports, Monster marketing execs knew that the coverage that the pit received during the event would reach millions of viewers and potential consumers.

As the green movement progresses, brands are trying to get in on the conversation, and Monster’s free pit pass in exchange for can redemption program exemplifies a successful attempt. Not only is Monster showing its commitment to environmental stewardship, it is also promoting sustainable behavioral change and providing its consumers with an experience that they will value at the same time.

The can redemption program also provided Monster with plenty of content for social media such as YouTube, as you can see in the video below.

Although the event was not primarily focused on recycling, it continues to be a success both sustainably and in marketing. Fans to get to experience acting sustainably with ease, the fun they have at the event and the ease of the action will hopefully remind them to recycle next time they drink a Monster energy drink.

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Seven Sustainable Things to Consider When Planning Your Event

Hosting an event is a wonderful way to honor or support stakeholders who are valuable to your business. Events bolster all ready loyal relationships and add value and loyalty to new relationships you want to develop.

An event is a great opportunity for a company to remind stakeholders of its sustainable initiatives. Events provide a plethora of opportunities to showcase how a company considers sustainability in its business practices.

  1. Every single part of the planning process can be seen through a sustainable lens.  Before finalizing decisions ask, “Can this be done more sustainably?” The answer may often be yes.
  2. Location. Location. Location. There are many ways to achieve sustainability in venue selection. The event could be held in a USGBC LEED Certified building or a building that has taken into consideration energy use and sourcing. Another way to think about a venue sustainably is to support a local venue or have the venue donated.
  3. Sustainable sourcing is a great way to green your event. If you’re serving food, goods or services or hosting musicians try to hire local and responsible businesses first. Also consider the business practices of companies that supply the sourced goods and whether their business goals align with your own.
  4. Waste not, want not. Consider waste management in every step of your planning.  Cut down on printing waste by sending e-invites and digitally displaying or having links to information during the event. Also be sure to include recycling receptacles and signage during the event. Try to purchase or reuse reusable items.
  5. Minimize resource use. Try to implement responsible resource use. Events are inherently heavy on the resource use. Be mindful of using natural light when possible, only using water when necessary and not using more energy than absolutely needed.
  6. Consider cultures and values of all guests. Try to know or learn the values of the various cultures that will be present at your event. Be mindful that in some cultures, colors and traditions may translate differently than in your own. If having food, integrating the various cultures that are present is a wonderful way to show respect for those cultures.
  7. Promotion. Don’t be ashamed to brag about all of the steps that you took to green your event. You also might consider getting it certified if you have the time to do so; certification can provide concrete proof of the sustainability of your event. The more people who talk about it, the easier it is to create a culture that values sustainability.

Greening your event gives it one more competitive advantage on top of all the value you will all ready be offering your attendees. Your attendees will remember the effort you put into greening your event and they will talk about it to their friends.


Positive Interaction

With so much focus on social media, many companies want to integrate social media into the marketing mix. Unfortunately, some of the companies participating in social media don’t truly understand the benefit of the two-way conversation that it can provide if used correctly.

Below is an example from the Patagonia Facebook page that highlights how the benefits of social media can help a company spread the word of its greatness. The conversation started with Patagonia posting pictures from and event they held in store during the Austin, Texas SXSW show. The event supported a locally owned restaurant and hosted local musicians; very sustainable.

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One of the most obvious ways to spark a conversation on social media is to ask a question of your viewers. It should be relevant enough to prompt an answer from them. However, be mindful of asking questions that might spark debate amongst your target audience. A healthy debate is usually beneficial, but your company’s Facebook page may not be the best place for it.

Brands that speak about their sustainable actions openly may ask questions such as

  • We do “X” to save 100 million gallons of water in clothing production annually, How do you do your part to conserve water?
  • What is your favorite way to re-use an item that otherwise would have been sent to the landfill?
  • What actions do you take that make you the most proud? We are really proud to say that …”

People enjoy the chance to brag about their lives on social media, it sometimes seems to be the main reason for usage. Supplying a chance to brag is an excellent way to encourage social media conversation.

Another way to encourage conversation is to share empowering, positive or educational things that you find helpful. More than likely your audience will appreciate what you have shared. A post such as this could look like:

                This short video clip always reminds me that there are smart and inspired people everywhere.  YouTube.xlyh4jg.com  What is your take away from it?

The most important thing to remember when posting content to social media is that people will appreciate messages which contain value, and will be annoyed by meaningless fluff. If a person on Facebook likes your brand, then your content will often show up in their feed. A company should keep that in mind and remember if they post invaluable, meaningless stuff; it is a surefire way to be “UNFRIENDED”…Gasp.


Two Brands that talk and walk sustainability and are criticized for it.

Last week I talked about how fear of green wash labeling can deter brands from talking about their sustainability initiatives. This week I will highlight two brands that brave the nay-Sayers and talk about their good doing.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola doesn’t just talk the talk; it has integrated sustainable practices into its business practices at multiple levels. To begin, Coke has minimized its use of PET plastic by 23% and has focused on striving for a closed loop supply chain, meaning they reuse plastic bottles when sourcing plastic for the new bottles.

Coke has also proudly talked about its efforts and encourages its consumers to recycle. This both contributes to Coke’s mission of closed loop supply chain and to society’s need to more properly manage trash. Coke has footprints at events, such as NASCAR, state fairs and other major events.

Even though Coke’s efforts are notable, there are still people that say it is greenwashing. In 2007 Coke was named as the Polaris Institute’s first Corporate Greenwashing Award recipient. Also people say that because parts of Cokes operations are not sustainable that they are greenwashing.

In my opinion, Coke is not exaggerating what they are trying to do and are making an effort to integrate sustainability where possible and are thus not greenwashing. At least it is attempting to tackle its overuse of resources, Coke should talk about it, because every little bit counts and it is contributing to a more conscious consumer.

Tom’s Shoes

Tom’s is responsible for the one:one business model. For every pair of shoes consumers buy, Tom’s donates a pair of shoes to someone in need. After the success of its shoes, Tom’s introduces glasses into its product offering, so now consumers can purchase eyeglasses and the matched funds will either provide glasses or eye care for someone in need.

Tom’s, like coke, pridefully discusses its business model and the benefits of purchasing Tom’s shoes over another brand of shoe. Tom’s has won multiple awards including placing sixth on FastCompany’s list of Top Ten Most Innovative Retail Companies and in 2009 Tom’s was named People’s Design Award recipient for its innovative business model.

Even Tom’s has its critics as EcoSalon typifies in its article about the good and the bad of Tom’s shoes. EcoSalon is not alone in criticizing Tom’s efforts, if one Googles Tom’s and greenwashing there are a number of bloggers articulating their displeasure with Tom’s efforts.

There will always be people hoping for brands to fail and attempting to be whistle blowers for sustainability. In using a proactive sustainable messaging plan that focuses on initiatives with real impact and integrates messages about sustainable business practices, brands will produce messages that encourage conscious consumers to look into the brand and find out for themselves.

 


Don’t Just Talk Green, Walk Green

While doing research for this blog, I recently came across the Sustainable Brands conference, which I hope to attend sometime. The Sustainable Brands conference allows people from various industries to meet and share their ideas about sustainable brand messaging and living up to the messaging.

A theme seemed to be that truly understanding sustainability allows organizations to implement sustainable initiatives internally and externally in the company. These initiatives show the company’s commitment to sustainability rather than just talking about it. Raphael Bemporad, principle at BBMG, led one of the sessions of the 2012 conference. I found the video of the presentation on YouYube, and it was such an insightful presentation that I wanted to share.

In the presentation, Bemporad discusses disrupt and delight, where he outlines five principles of sustainable brand innovation and communication which I have briefly outlined below:

  • Start with what’s sacred; a community that holds the same things as sacred will work together better.

i.            Chipotle and its responsible food sourcing practices

  • Design holistically; the good of the element is the good of the whole.

i.            Levi’s and its Water<Less denim design

  • Create collaboratively; consumers and employees can act as co-creators.

i.            Unilever’s Needs and Wants online, notifies consumers of research and development issues that need solutions

  • Play breeds creativity; it allows us to see our work with fresh eyes.

i.            “People who play video games actively are more creative…” Michigan State University study

  • How to connect and spread delight; being more creative and delightful with your consumers will encourage change in them.

i.            Warby Parker Eyeglasses; social enterprise to sell product 1:1 business model

These principles remind companies to integrate sustainability into every level of business. This total integration makes talking about the sustainable initiatives much easier for employees, because people better retain information through actual practice rather than memorization.

When it comes to sustainable messaging the time old saying, “Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk,” holds true. If a company wants to join in the sustainability conversation, it should consider business from the ground up, and decide if it can be doing anything smarter, cleaner, more inclusively and more intuitively.

Sustainability is a lifestyle; its integration into a company’s environment will encourage behavioral change within its employees.After this has been done, the sustainable messaging will coalesce organically and a company will have a new story which will warrant sharing.


Your Sustainable Message: Who Knows?

In PR we recognize that interactions at all levels of business should be considered when thinking about strategic communication. This, of course, includes a company’s consumers, but it also includes its employees, stakeholders, and the society in which it functions.

Printing messages of sustainability on packaging and putting them in media is a great way to get the word out, but one should not count out the importance of conveying your ongoing sustainability efforts to your internal publics as well.

Word of mouth advertising is powerful; it allows a company’s marketing messages to be conveyed by a third party source that is often credible to the message receiver. In Anatomy of Buzz, author Emanuel Rosen says that if a person receives a message on an advertisement and heard a different message about a competing product from a friend, that person is more likely to buy the product endorsed by their friend because they trust them more.

This applies in sustainable messaging as well.  If the general public, stakeholders and employees are informed about your company’s sustainable efforts, they are likely to talk about them with people they know, who in turn will hopefully share the information with their friends.

This highlights the importance of having clear, concise and consistent messaging. If a key message has clear meaning and is concise and consistent across all platforms, it is much easier to remember and share. Also the message will be spread more quickly if the benefit is meaningful and clear.

Making sure employees know about the company’s sustainability effort will help them have meaningful conversations with customers who may care to know. It will also allow them to casually bring it up in conversation if they feel it may increase a customer’s loyalty.

Consumers feel good when their money goes to a cause other than consumerism; arming as many publics as possible with the right sustainable messages helps them know that supporting your company is supporting a good cause as well.

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 How can you g…

 

How can you go green?

There are so many different areas that one can tackle when considering ways they can modify their current behavior to become more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Environmental Improvements

  • turn water off while not using it when brushing teeth
  • reusable bags, try to keep them in the car to encourage usage
  • turn off all lights when not in use and as much as possible rely on natural lighting
  • recycle, even if your home doesn’t offer it, it may be easier than you think with a little effort
  • donate, don’t discard. whether to your friends or good will, someone will appreciate old belongings
  • walk and bike when possible instead of driving, hard in Texas summers, but rewarding
  • purchase consciously, considering packaging and ingredients

Economic Modifications

  • buy in bulk when possible
  • invest in items that will last, rather than cheaper goods with less durability
  • be aware of your financial situation and make choices that will honor it
  • sites like groupon or living social will send you coupons for things you enjoy spending money on

Social Modifications

  • refrain from judgement with out facts
  • stay away from thinking in stereotypes
  • when minds from different disciplines converge more competent solutions are created
  • share your successes and failures with others
  • dont be afraid to tell someone that you appreciate their effort
  • when possible, help
  • smile or acknowledge people, all deserve at the minimum, acknowledgement
  • I know its cliche, but the “Golden Rule” comes in here

Those are a just a few things that when practiced will create, for the most part, a more sustainable personal environment. There are many things not discussed here that would rely on more time on my part. I will attack each area more at length later… these are just a minimal few I conjured up just now.

Hope everyone is having a fantabulous day!!

Inspire each other with enthusiasm, dedication, and love.

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