Why Patience Pays On Sustainability Branding Campaigns

Sara Strube Advertising, Digital media, Sustainability

Ford was incorporated in 1903. Irrevocably associated with being the granddaddy of American industrialism, the global powerhouse has been successfully marketing itself to generation after generation for more than a century. In 2003, the year Ford was celebrating it’s 100th anniversary, the electric luxury car brand Tesla was established.

During the past decade, which has been an admittedly rough one for many businesses, Ford continued to report billion dollar earnings in its North American market. Tesla, on the other hand, reported its first ever profits earlier this year.

The point being? At an intellectual level people understand the importance of buying green, but it’s still extremely difficult for the majority of our species to break emotional attachments to brands that have been successfully marketed over 25, 50 or 100+ years.

And, while here at the Abel Twitchell collective we get what business gurus mean when they speculate that green marketing isn’t working, we have to disagree. Strongly.

What it boils down to for most deeply committed, pro-planet co.’s is time (that, and a solid digital media strategy).

Here’s why it pays to be patient with sustainability branding campaigns:

  1. Even the most creative ad agency in the world won’t be able to get you a decent click-through rate if you misjudge your target audience’s whereabouts. By knowing where to look (i.e. Abel Twitchell) your branding campaign immediately starts off in front of an engrossed audience that is already emotionally and intellectually invested in living, breathing and incorporating all manner of green into their personal and professional lives.
  2. From there, you’ve got the chance to attract a new consumer or b2b base if you have an authentic product or service that lives up to its advertised specs. Building brand loyalty, however, is a slow process that must consciously – and repeatedly – envelop its target audience. It can be extremely frustrating to wait this time period out. But like Aesop’s Fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare” (and Tesla), pacing yourself pays off in the long run.
  3. In the game of global warming, the stakes are extremely high. Climate scientists urge speed and we fully support that assessment, data and rational! However, the best advertising and marketing resonates with its target at the physical level. Trying to break emotional attachments to a laundry detergent smell associated with nostalgic childhood memories – and replace it with, let’s say, eco-friendly soap nuts (super cool product by the way) – is admittedly going to be a bit of an uphill battle … but one that’s completely worth it to keep all those harmful chemicals out of the groundwater.

Plus, who really wants to look back while Mother Nature unleashes the disastrous effects of too much CO2 in the atmosphere, and think: Could we have tried harder? Should we have risked more? Were there ‘outside the box’ channels we could have taken? 

It’s not that we’re saying digital media and sustainability minded advertising can save the world. But marketing inexpensive, toxic products to the masses over the last century successfully got us into this mess. So surely taking the time to market truly sustainable practices, products and companies can help get us out!

“Finally, traditional marketing paradigms do not fit with brands that are trying to ride the zeitgeist of today’s complex cultural shifts. A senior executive of a major multinational corporation recently said: “The best way to educate is to find new channels and the digital marketing approach is very powerful.” – The Guardian, “Why green brands are failing to capture public attention”

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