Gathering journalists, bloggers, young entrepreneurs, tech gurus, investment bankers and creative marketing types all in one room to discuss the future of green business is no mean feat, but it is testament to the previous successes of Judith Clegg and The Glasshouse team that on Monday night this week all these people and more were brought together in the Yahoo offices in central London.
The Glasshouse is well known in London and New York for hosting networking events par excellence. Each evening has a theme and special guest speakers. Our own 'fearless leader' Graham Hill was invited to talk about TreeHugger earlier this year in New York. This week in London we were invited to hear two green marketing strategists at the top of their game. John Grant, author of the recently published Green Marketing Manifesto (review coming soon) and Jules Peck, formerly of WWF and now adviser to the Conservative Party, presented their new paper entitled 'Hope + Glory?'John Grant and Jules Peck are now working together as green marketing consultants under the name of the The Carbon Positive Company. As all good marketing men should John and Jules have coined a new phrase within which they can reframe the issue of the day - namely imminent environmental disaster.
We have heard much talk of creating new terminology for our eco-discussions and "Carbon Positive", instead of the stock term Carbon Neutral, seems more upbeat, moving past the doom + gloom scenarios. As John Grant says, it suggests that businesses not only can neutralize their effects on the environment, but can actually go further and have a positive impact. Indeed the subtitle of their 'Hope + Glory?' paper is 'Green Ventures UK - the next ten years for carbon-positive entrepreneurs.'
In a climate of fear surrounding the inevitable backlash caused by corporate green washing, it is not surprising that the term 'Green Marketing' is viewed with suspicion. However, listening to John and Jules speak, they make it clear that 'Green Marketing' is a powerful tool for encouraging positive action, if used in the right way. It is not to be used for conning people into thinking products or businesses are green when they're not, although unfortunately this will happen, but it should be used by young eco-entrepreneurs to help people understand that being green is easy.
The obvious example they used was the revolutionary change of perception towards technology lead by Apple and Microsoft. Through clever marketing and design people came to understand that using a laptop, mp3 player and the internet is part of normal everyday life. John was emphatic that new green businesses need to be 'Charismatic' if they are to survive in an increasingly competitive market. They need to be attractive, fun, clever, sexy and ultimately useful.
All TreeHugger readers can see that these key words must have been in Graham Hill's mission statement when he started out in his attempt to 'rebrand sustainability' and 'take it into the mainstream'. Taking a pejorative term such as TreeHugger and twisting it around to create a cool new contemporary brand was all about 'green marketing' in it's most positive sense - oh and of course good writing too!
Other positive examples that John and Jules used were TreeHugger favourites such as Innocent Drinks, social networking sites such as Actics, The Nag and mostly recently Green Thing. In the electricity sector they championed Good Energy , Ecotricity and USBCELL. In the mobility sector: Modec, Green Tomato Cars and Eye Network. In the consumer sector: Worn Again and The Natural Collection. As we show you here on TH everyday of the week there are good green brands appearing all the time and they are leading by example in an area where governments and big corporations have only shown reluctance. We really should have sent representatives from all the companies above, as delegates, to Bali.