I work in a company that has a very green profile. As an experienced digital marketing manager, I am responsible for coming up with all of our online marketing campaigns. Inspiration is alfa & omega to succeed. As online marketing has been happening for decades already, there is no point in inventing the wheel.
In fact, I had zero problems finding many great examples for Black Friday, Christmas, or Easter. But when I tried to research creative marketing campaigns for eco-friendly products, I could not find any. All the information that I could find were either non-related to what I really wanted to find, or simply poor. In this article, I will give you examples of successful green marketing campaigns that will (hopefully) inspire you.
It took me many hours to source these ads, so please be nice to me in the comment section! 😉
Funny sustainable marketing campaigns (both videos and banners)
#1: Carlsberg renewable beer bottle
Carlsberg is brilliant at finding innovative ways to reduce their environmental footprint as a large beer company. This ad is smart, but they are already selling plastic-free beer packaging (that I have tested and reviewed).
#2: IKEA charges money for plastic bags
There are three clear reasons why I find this advertisement to be powerful and extremely clever:
1) They are now making you pay for the bag (extra revenue).
2) They justify the extra income by saying that you should limit your plastic pollution.
3) IKEA will also get a lot of goodwill because they are now “giving to charity” as they give five cents to Tree Canada for every bag sold.
It might look simple, but this advertisement is actually genius.
#3: Hyundai: “Your turn, Elon!”
When the South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai produced the world’s first electronic SUV, they sent a clear message to one of their competitors. “Elon” refers to the CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk. 🙂
So simple, but yet so powerful. This also illustrates that a green marketing campaign does not necessarily need to highlight that the consumer will leave a smaller carbon footprint by buying their services/products. This statement clearly shows that Hyundai is doing an awful lot within green innovation.
Source: Youtube (0 minutes, 44 seconds).
#4: Prius: Don`t leave a footprint
This one is cool. I was actually a big fan of Toyota Prius back in the days. I recently sold my Pruis from 2008 to finance a fully electronic car.
#5: Various ads from World Wildlife Fund
These WWF ads are clever and sad at the same time:
WWF has more or less only one “business model”: to make sure that people care about the environment and all animals. Due to the nature of that business model, they are forced to use eco-friendly messaging in their advertisement. However, there are loads of inspiration you can take from some of these amazing ads.
#6: Lacoste: swapping the famous crocodile with endangered animals [“Save Our Species”]
This is, by far, my favorite marketing campaign for green products. Whoever is responsible for marketing in Lacoste should have received a solid pay rise after coming up with this brilliant idea.
I will explain the marketing idea below the picture, but this is how it looked like:
What was the main idea behind the campaign?
Let me explain this in bullet points.
– There are many endangered animals in the world. Lacoste wanted to give them some extra attention.
– As the shirts were of a limited edition, that also translated into a message of “there are not many shirts available, but there are definitely not many sea turtles left either...”. I love the power of that messaging.
– Lacoste even wrote on their website that “the number of polos made of each species represents the number remaining in the wild.” Source.
– The profit from the campaign was split with a non-profit organization called IUCN ( International Union for Conservation of Nature).
#7: Sea Shepherd: Please don`t choke the marine animals to death!
Just like WWF, Sea Shepherd is a non-profit organization that works towards a pollution-free nature. I found this ad very powerful:
Enough pictures. Let’s look at some smart video campaigns! 🙂
Thoughtful video campaigns
#1: Coca-Cola Introducing PlantBottle™
Why did this campaign succeed?
First and foremost because they highlight a problem that “everyone” is aware of; plastic trash in nature. This is what appeals to people.
The reason for that is quite simple: people do not understand a graph that illustrates how much CO2 that can be found in the atmosphere. But everyone feels bad when they see a sea turtle that is being choked to death by a plastic bag.
Is this product really eco-friendly?
In the video, the woman says that “the product contains up to 30 % renewable material”. Therefore, I would not really say that this product makes the world a (much) better place. However, I do acknowledge that Coca-Cola try to make their packaging more eco-friendly. It’s a start. Several publications actually blamed the soda company for greenwashing. One website, called ibtimes.com, wrote a very interesting article with the following headline: “Coca-Cola Company (KO) Busted For ‘Greenwashing’: PlantBottle Marketing Exaggerated Environmental Benefits, Says Consumer Report”.
In order words: you can take inspiration from this marketing campaign. However, many people will still claim that it was nothing but greenwashing.
#2: Patagonia`s first ever TV advertisement
You might have heard of the apparel giant Patagonia. They are famous for offering high-quality clothes for people that want to explore nature. Throughout the 44 first years of business, they did not launch a single marketing campaign! Imagine that!
In 2017, they decided to break that pattern. They actually decided to create a 1 minute long TV commercial that cost many million dollars to create. The unique thing about this ad is that it did not feature their clothes at all. In fact, Patagonia used the whole campaign to highlight the need to protect America’s public lands.
This is the video called: “Why Patagonia is Fighting for Public Lands”
And you can read the whole incredible story by clicking here (forbes.com).
Will this type of non-commercial marketing campaign work for “any” green company?
No, it would not. This is a very special type of angle that does not work for most commercial companies. However, I did include it on the list as I really admire what Patagonia did.
In late 2018, I actually did an interview with Patagonia to hear about their business model and how they see their business grow in the future. You can read that interview by clicking here.
#3: Kia and their superbowl commercial in 2017
Kia launched a new electric car just before the Superbowl in 2017. They made a funny commercial starring Melissa McCarthy in many different situations.
Superbowl commercials are very often funny, but this is almost unique. You will understand why when you watch it:
“It`s hard to be an eco-warrior, but it`s easy to drive like one”.
#4: Beyond Meat: Website presentation
I also wanted to include one of the best websites I know about. Beyond Meat is a plant-based meat option that specializes in offering hamburgers without meat. On their front page, they manage to include all the useful information on their homepage:
As you can see, you instantly get all the information you would need as a consumer:
– It’s healthy.
– It’s good for the environment.
– Beyond Meat do not mention that they are a clear substitute for meat, but gives a hint when they write “find It in the meat aisle”.
This might look easy, but it is actually a masterpiece from a marketing perspective.
Interested to learn more about green marketing? (book reviews!)
Marketing campaigns on eco-friendly services and products is one of my biggest passion. And I really hope you are interested in it as well.
I had an experiment where I bought eight books about green marketing (yeah, I know…I’m a nerd). Out of that experiment came a quite interesting article that you can read by clicking here.
However, these are the three best books about green marketing – and, as I am writing this, they all cost below 20 USD on Amazon:
I would really recommend the book to the right. Regardless of category, it’s the most exciting book I read this year.
Discussion: Why is it so important to find the right angle when you create a green marketing campaign?
The most important thing is to illustrate something that people care about. Green marketing should not really be about educating the public about global warming. It should be to illustrate how the consumer can buy a green product or service that ALSO benefits the planet.
Let me be a bit more specific.
Tip #1: Do not overestimate how much people understand about the environment
I want to get back to an important point that was made previously in the article. This is a graph made by NASA that illustrates how global warming keeps increasing every single year. People are not going to get offended or shocked by this:
Source to the graph: NASA.
…on the other hand, people are going to go crazy over this (well-made) ad from Sea Shepherd:
Tip #2: Be product focused!
Ultimately, advertisement is all about increasing sales. You should spend more time focusing on the product rather than the problem. Carlsberg does not want you to focus on the beer bottles ending up in nature – they want to sell beer. Lacoste did not want to save all the animals in the world – they want to create a hype around a beautiful advertisement campaign that can make them sell more t-shirts.
If it helps the world to become a better place, that should be a nice bonus.
I have worked with digital marketing for more than 12 years. During that time, I have been involved in several product launches of green products. That is why I know a thing or two about this topic. If you have any questions in regards to mapping out a “green marketing campaign”, please leave a comment below. 🙂
Pictures and copyright
Disclaimer: I DO NOT own any of the pictures posted in the article. If you represent any of the companies owning these pictures, please get in touch with me and I will remove them asap. This is meant as an article that highlights the best green marketing campaigns out there, so I really hope you see the value in being represented.