Open Enrollment | Subscribe to Target Marketing HERE
Connect
Follow us on
Advertisement
 
Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably

By Chet Dalzell

About Chet

Marketing Sustainably: What's Going on Beyond and Beneath the Green? A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing.

Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of direct marketing. He serves on the Direct Marketing Association Committee on the Environment and Social Responsibility, where he is currently chairman of the Committee's Marketing & Communications Public Outreach Strategy Working Group (2005-present).

Chet co-developed the first professional certificate program in environmentally responsible marketing within the United States. He also served on the United States Postal Service Greening the Mail Task Force (2007-2010), and led its Life Cycle of Mail Subcommittee.

Email Chet below, or reach him at Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Making Social Sell

Jeff Molander
Writing Effective InMail and Sales Emails: Don't Ask for the Appointment
Aug 22, 2014

Here's my best tip on writing effective sales emails or LinkedIn InMail messages: Don't ask for the appointment. Instead, earn...



Ruthless B-to-B Marketing

Ruth P.  Stevens
B-to-B Marketing Is Falling Down on the Job
Jul 9, 2014

I heard a horror story the other day—a consumer packaged goods executive ranting about a meeting with a vendor. "I...



Muscle Marketing

Wendy Montes de Oca
PPC Shockers and Secrets
Jul 29, 2014

Pay per click (PPC), particularly Google AdWords, is a marketing channel that can produce profitable results for your business, whether...



Direct Mail for the Modern Marketer

Summer Gould
Empower Your Direct Mail With Mobile
Aug 21, 2014

Direct mail marketing has been around for a long time; it's sometimes thought of as the "old goat" of marketing....



Brand Matters

Andrea Syverson
Season's Greetings!
Aug 21, 2014

Perhaps like me, you love summer and all it entails: longer days, outdoor play, flip-flop casualness, patio grilling, hummingbirds, wildflowers...



Yblog

Yory Wurmser
Privacy in the Age of Big Data
Jul 10, 2013

Consumers reveal more than ever before consciously through social media and, just as importantly, unconsciously through their behaviors. This data...



Who's Your Data?

Rio Longacre
Instagram: Does It Matter That It Will Make Money on Your Pics?
Dec 19, 2012

Instagram announced the company will soon begin using your content to sell targeted advertising products to the highest bidder. Does...



The Whole Magilla

Ken Magill
What Marketers Can Learn From Maine's Political Email Idiocy
Feb 24, 2012

It finally happened. Politicians' idiotic email practices had a measurable negative effect. "Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted...



Reinventing Direct

Gary Hennerberg
10 Storytelling-in-Content Marketing Lessons Learned
Aug 20, 2014

Storytelling lifts content marketing into more powerful messaging. Today we share 10 lessons learned as a result of a content...



The Power Punch

Carolyn Goodman
The Fun of Marketing Lexicons
Aug 15, 2014

The first time I heard Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie referred to as "Brangelina," I admit I laughed out loud....



Big Data, Small Data, Clean Data, Messy Data

Stephen  H. Yu
Beyond RFM Data
Aug 14, 2014

In the world of predictive analytics, the transaction data is the king of the hill. The master of the domain....



Marketing Nuggets

Michael Lowenstein
When Viral Marketing Goes Too Far
Aug 12, 2014

A couple of years ago, our local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, ran a disturbing story about how a mortgage loan...



Mobile-First Marketing

Greg Hoy
How to Fast-Track Your Mobile Marketing Initiatives
Aug 11, 2014

Marketers are finally realizing the potential of adding mobile marketing to their overall strategies. According to Comscore, mobile commerce spending...



The Integrated Email

Cyndie Shaffstall
Wasted Personalization
Aug 11, 2014

Chatting with a friend about this article, he suggested I write about the most memorable email I've received. And while...



Keeping Search Profitable

Amanda G. Watlington, Ph.D.
Is Your Content Fresh, Frequent and Unique?
Aug 5, 2014

Today, your content plays a much larger role in getting top search results than ever before; therefore, it may be...



Here's What Counts

Chuck McLeester
Use Market Research to Tie Brand Awareness and Purchase Intent to Sales
Jul 31, 2014

For years, I've been saying direct marketers are their own worst enemy when it comes to measurement. Direct marketers are...



Online Video Marketing Deep Dive

Eve Grey
Are Your Videos Champions of Your Brand?
Feb 3, 2014

If you advertise in an ordinary way, it's safe to expect ordinary results. However, when you take the extreme and...



Think Mobility

Greg Hickman
‘I Can't Because, I Need ... ’
Oct 7, 2013

Does this sound like you? Have you ever set up a goal, but then realized (either quickly or too late)...



Triple Venti Dolce Data...

Vince Pickett
Clue Me In, Please
Aug 21, 2013

So here we are, halfway through 2013. You, along with everyone, are still trying to find that magic formula to...



Denny Hatch's Blog

Denny Hatch
The Internet Can Make You a Chump—Forever!
Sep 25, 2010

Trouble is, the Internet is rife with misinformation and if you get caught advertently or inadvertently propagating this nonsense in...



SEO & Content Marketing Revue

Heather Lloyd-Martin
5 Tips for Top Positioning (And Converting) Page Titles
Aug 11, 2010

Wondering about a SEO content strategy that offers the biggest impact in the shortest time? Try tweaking your page titles....



Making a Green Claim: (Not) Waiting for the FTC Green Guides

1
 
Direct marketers and mailers making environmental claims have a number of resources available to them to help make such statements meaningful to consumers. The most important of those to U.S. marketers are the Federal Trade Commission's Green Guides—officially titled "Guide for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims"—which were enacted in 1992, and updated in 1996 and 1998. In 2007, the FTC initiated a new effort to update the Green Guides once again—and here we are in 2012 still waiting for this next edition.

The Green Guides, as currently written, give insight into use of such specific claims as biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, recycled content and ozone safe. While they are "guides," they are enforceable. The FTC can and has brought forth cases where marketers' claims did not measure up to the examples that pepper the Green Guides throughout.

In a recent Direct Marketing Association Compliance Series Webinar (February 14), DMA's Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs, said there is no indication that the Green Guides' updates—promised some time ago—will be published shortly, or what might be holding them up. If there are differences of opinions among government scientists about certain claims or terminology, or if FTC staff have unresolved policy questions related to potentially new Green Guides content, the truth is we really just don't know. However, the current iteration of the Green Guides certainly does give us good direction, which I'll enumerate here.

First, as with any marketing claim—green or not—each claim must be "truthful," "clear" and "substantiated." Many of my colleagues know that "go green—go digital" claims many banks, utilities and financial service companies print on monthly statements are a pet peeve of mine. While I have no issue with persuading customers to switch to electronic statements, for those customers who want to, I do have a big problem with couching the digital migration as an environmental choice. Chances are the brand has made no effort to document the net environmental benefits of doing so. Just supposing that an e-statement "saves trees" is not substantiated, or, if there is an attempt to do so, it is largely based on spurious associations with deforestation, something that is not happening in North America.  While I'm not a lawyer, I would be very wary about making such claims statements on a brand's envelopes because of the FTC's substantiation expectation.

Second, when making a marketing claim—on a mail piece, on packaging, on a product—it must be clear what the claim pertains to, as in the mail piece itself, the packaging itself or the product itself. For example, making a "recyclable" claim might be seen as deceptive if the packaging is recyclable, but the product it protects is not. Thus, be very clear with labels as to what the claim applies.

Next, we need to ensure claims are not overstated. For example, growing the amount of recycled content "by 50 percent" would be seen as deceptive if the content were to nudge from 2 percent to 3 percent. Similarly, making a "biodegradable" claim is highly suspect when an item destined to today's air-tight and water-tight landfills largely stays there inert—it's only biodegradable when it's a piece of litter exposed to sunlight and the elements, hardly the intended end of life. Stating some item is "eco-safe" would be seen to be deceptive if there is no proof, or if it refers to one attribute of a product or item, as opposed to the product or item overall.

The term "recycled content" is important to consider because the FTC does not count material in the manufacturing process that is normally reused, and thus never first discarded as waste. Only if the material is recovered from the waste stream and reused may it be considered "recycled." There are "pre-consumer," "post-industrial" and "post-consumer" forms of recycled content, but in all cases, these types of labeled recycled content must be recovered from waste. Thus, it's common to see recycled-content papers with labels such as "made with 100-percent recovered fiber, with 20-percent post-consumer content."

Finally, though not part of the Green Guides, the FTC in a staff opinion gave the Direct Marketing Association and direct marketers the go-ahead to enable "recyclable" and "recycle please" messages on catalogs and direct mail pieces. That distinction in 2006 was important. Prior to the opinion, that type of label was not permissible, because even though mail or catalogs technically were recyclable, less than two-thirds of the nation's households had local access to recycling collection programs for this material. Thus, it would be seen as deceptive if local facilities were non-existent. Even the qualified "recyclable where local facilities exist" would be seen as deceptive without having the two-thirds threshold in place first. Thankfully, we've met that threshold and now can implement consumer education programs such as DMA's "Recycle Please" logo initiative (launched in 2007).

While we've seen a draft for public comment of the next Green Guides, the final draft is—as of this date—yet to come. Therefore, it's probably not wise to guess as to what will be in the next version, or what will be left out. (To visit the October 2010 draft, go here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/energy/about_guides.shtml )

As a communicator, I also have at least one other "green claims" resource—an organization called TerraChoice, now part of Underwriters Laboratory, which actually consults (or has consulted) with the FTC and the Canadian Standards Association, as well as many Fortune 500 brands. Its Web site, www.sinsofgreenwashing.org, documents seven "sins" of environmental marketing claims, sins such as hidden tradeoffs and no proof. In its most recent 2010 report, only 5 percent of consumer product claims were found to be "sin free," which truth-be-told was an improvement over 2009! 

Between the current edition of the FTC Green Guides, TerraChoice, and the DMA's own Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, direct marketers don't have to wait around for the FTC to (finally) issue its next Green Guides rendition to make an honest, truthful environmental marketing claim. With Earth Day around the corner, just do some diligence to be sin-free and stop saying "Go Green, Go Digital"!

Helpful Links:

Companies Mentioned:

1

COMMENTS

Click here to leave a comment...
Comment *
Most Recent Comments: