Mal Warwick, founder/chairman of fundraising agency Mal Warwick Associates, agrees wholeheartedly. There are simply bigger concerns than the bottom line, or perhaps consider the most important layer of the triple bottom line (people/planet/profit) to be the planet rather than profits. "It's time for us all to wake up to the fact that global warming is going to leave our planet uninhabitable by human beings. If we don't continue becoming greener, our children and grandchildren will suffer," he declares.
In fact, most marketers I spoke to brought up a similar sentiment: that continuing green practices was essential, but that the communication and comprehension of green has to improve. "I believe our industry needs to do a better job of communicating to the public that paper comes from renewable resources and can be recycled," mentions Gary Hennerberg, president of direct marketing agency The Hennerberg Group.
"I grew up on a farm so I have an appreciation for harvesting crops in the fall after planting them in the spring. It's really about the same with trees. They are planted and harvested, and replanted and harvested. And there are millions and millions of acres of land in the U.S. to harvest trees from. The Direct Marketing Association should be getting out this message because the planting and harvesting of trees as a crop, and paper recycling opportunities, isn't probably understood by most consumers," relates Hennerberg.
Makes Sense in Certain Demographics ... and for Certain Companies
Some believe the emphasis on "green" will do more to push targeting advances than production advances, at least for the immediate future—and that a profit can be made. "There are some market segments in which green messaging has far greater hold: automotive, architecture/construction, energy development, etc. These segments offer a significant return on that investment," says Bob Merrigan, president of direct marketing agency Merrigan & Co.