for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant


Goths, ghouls and zombies, the dark side has most definitely returned – but this time it looks like it may well stick around a while longer than Halloween.  From the surprise UK TV hit Dead Set to the packed-out launch of fabulous new book Hell Bound: New Gothic Art by Francesca Gavin (visual arts editor at Dazed & Confused), our love for the macabre has re-emerged, and apparently it’s women who are growing a hunger for horror. A perfect time then to invest in a wickedly luxurious cashmere jumper from London Denim’s collaboration with Disney. The collection features three of the most evil Disney characters created: Cruella DeVille, Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent, and Snow White’s wicked stepmother, each recreated in Swarovski crystals to be “evilly alluring”. Because the dark side is the new black!

London Denim’s Disney Queens collection is available at Harrods and online

Filed under: brand extensions, worth buying, ,

John Grant explains his Green Marketing Manifesto

the green marketing manifestoI was lucky enough to get given an early copy of the lovely John Grant’s new book The Green Marketing Manifesto thanks to PSFK. The book is an insightful understanding for marketers and brands into meaningful green marketing, and, as well as being hugely thought-provoking, offers a practical and ingenious ‘roadmap’ guide to help marketing do good and deliver on it’s green objectives, or rather: ‘it’s not about making normal stuff seem green, it’s about making green stuff seem normal’. John very kindly took time out of his super-busy schedule to answer a couple of questions for me (well for PSFK!) and explain his book, his beliefs and his future plans:

Can you briefly explain the ‘roadmap’ that underpins your book?

I wrote the book (originally it started as a paper for a potential client project) to try to make sense of the torrent of recent green marketing initiatives. I wanted to sift out what was greenwash and what had substance – and also try to get to what was actually working, and why; and to map out the terrain a bit.

The structure that emerged from this research into the main types of approach turned out to be a 3×3 grid.

One axis simply describes what is being marketed; is it a public/corporate task, a brand/social identity/community sort of thing, or is it about products, practicalities, inconspicuous consumption and everyday habits? It becomes much simpler to talk about green marketing when you don’t mix up these different levels. Corporate, brand and product marketing are always different. The only thing Du Pont, the Toyota Prius and lagging your loft have in common is the aim to reduce carbon emissions; but in different contexts, and obviously with very different types of marketing, in different media, to different audiences.

The other axis discriminates between three broad types of objectives:

– Green: a company or brand or product, which is setting new standards. It might be a corporate programme like M&S Plan A; a brand conforming to an eco-labeling scheme; or a product which is simply made in a better way. The marketing in this category tends to be quite straightforward and factual. With Green & Blacks for instance, a lot of their marketing has consisted of giving away sample bars (on places like the cover of Good Housekeeping Magazine), so that people who wouldn’t necessarily have considered Fairtrade/organic chocolate can taste for themselves just how good it is.

– Greener. In many markets the main impact comes from how the product or service is used. Hence the potential to work with customers to achieve a bigger result together. The most prominent example in the UK has been Ariel asking people to ‘turn to 30’. That’s a very simple, common sense request. But in other cases, getting people to cut or switch can require education. Did you know that 1/3 of food bought in the UK is wasted. Apart from all the resources that went into production and transportation, food waste produces methane (a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2). Wasted food is reckoned to be equivalent to 1/5 of all car use. There’s a big education campaign called WRAP that launched in the last few weeks to tackle this, and retailers and manufacturers are getting involved too. It’s a really interesting cultural issue and incidentally points out how limited the ‘leave it all to us’ attitude taken by some brands is.

– Greenest. That’s all very well, but gradual improvements and efficiencies are not going to get us to the 90% reductions in carbon emissions that many are now saying are needed. There are going to have to be much bigger changes.

Some will involve giving stuff up. Low cost flights for one. People will still fly, for sure, but not at the level described by in their “Take5aYear” advertising (which incredibly just picked up an award as ‘the best’ travel industry poster campaign of 2007!) Some recent research found that 80% feel guilty every time they fly. And also that 41% are already using their car less. The message is getting through, and splurging carbon is becoming about as socially acceptable as a fur coat, just look at all the stuff levelled at celebrities.

There will also be instances where people’s needs can be met just as well or better, while doing dramatically less damage. Home grocery delivery is a much greener option, if it becomes widespread enough to drive out-of-town shopping out of business. Tough stuff for Tesco, but when it can save a lot of money, time and also a huge amount of carbon wasted in car trips, heating, lighting, open refrigeration and so on…? Home delivery is becoming quite well established, but what about sharing clubs, libraries, rental and so on, for most consumer durables. How about making it normal to go back to the launderette? (which could reclaim nearly all water and soap, and use expensive low energy machines). This is where we need bold ‘trojan horse’ ideas to help us all over our greenophobia. What if every gym had a launderette, and the treadmills generated some of the electricity?

The bulk of green marketing campaigns have been in the first category so far. Ecoblahblah slogans and all that. In future we need to see more collaboration (beyond ‘pledges’ which so few take, and fewer stick to) and a LOT more innovation. There is a barely a market that couldn’t be reinvented if you started again, thinking about planet, people and profit together. We don’t need sustainability communications, so much as an avalanche of inventions.

How far behind this understanding do you think the advertising industry is?

It varies, there are some very switched on agencies and individuals and then there are the other sort. Also it simply depends on the brief. Advertising is great when you have something scarily new to mythologize and bring to the mainstream. It’s also good at simple collaborative actions. It’s often a disaster waiting to happen when you are ‘communicating your green credentials’. There’s also the question of advertising’s place in any media mix, its credibility, authenticity. The utility companies (some of them) have a good story around their green energy tariffs. But I need to read about this on Treehugger, not see it in an ad break, surely?

We know the title of the book was under debate and you got lots of input from your blog readers, but what made you decide on the Green Marketing Manifesto?

The Green Marketing Manifesto was the original title for the project, and my publisher liked it because it was straightforward and also connected with my previous books called The _ _ Manifesto. I just wasn’t totally sure about it. Was ‘green’ too narrow? I quite liked the idea of something less ‘trade book’ for instance The Beautiful Coincidence (ie when breakthrough ideas were equally good for people, planet and profit). In the end I ran a poll on my blog – PSFK were very helpful by the way in directing people to this – and over 300 people voted. The Green Marketing Manifesto came first. So that stuck as the title.

What would you like to see as an outcome from your book / for the industry moving forwards?

I’d like to see much less greenwash and much more innovation. I’ve spent more time in the last year talking to people in agencies and public forums 2 or 3 times a week, than on writing the book. Lots of people have said it all now makes a bit more sense. That’s what I’d hope for anyway. Radical common sense.

What is next for you??

Myself and several friends are getting together a forum where people in the creative industries can meet green entrepreneurs and hopefully help them by donating ideas, support, advice.

I am also working on a report and event on the big green opportunities – beyond cleantech – for investors and entrepreneurs (with Glasshouse, in December).

I have some big plans for next year, mainly working with sustainability experts on innovation programmes, and with some exciting g-commerce start-ups. Less writing and talking, and a lot more doing hopefully!

Thanks John!

Green Marketing Manifesto

Read John’s blog, and definitely go buy the book

Filed under: evironmental insights, worth buying

Veja’s Ecological Sneakers reach London

Veja, the first ecological and ethical sneaker brand that launched in Paris and Tokyo in 2005, offers shoes made with organic cotton grown by small producers in North-eastern Brazil and Amazonian wild latex.

Making a trendy name for fair trade, the Veja company also pride themselves on being stocked in some of Europe’s most exclusive and selective fashion shops- and the latest of these to pick them up are two of London’s coolest- Bread and Honey and the Shop at BlueBird who have been offering the range for the past month. As the company explain it “Convincing the customers who are already convinced with fair trade principles is not our prority. We want Veja sneakers to be next to other brands… Ethic aspects shouldn’t be the only reason to explain a purchase”.

read more about Veja here, and find out where you can get your hands on a pair.

Filed under: worth buying, , ,

Pay As You Drive Insurance

UK insurance company Norwich Union have launched a “Pay As You Drive” insurance- a flexible option that uses in-car GPS devices to build an insurance policy created around the individual motorist. Based on personal driving habits such as usage, type of road, and mileage, a cost per mile is added onto a monthly fee, with prices starting from as little as 1p per mile. Customers then have the option of receiving an itemised monthly bill. As the company’s blurb states- “It couldn’t be easer. With “Pay As You Drive”™ insurance you will be fully insured at all time, but you only pay for the journeys you actually

Considering the extortionate price of insurance in London which can be affected by everything from your age and gender to location and nocturnal habits, this seems like a fantastic money-saving option, though I have yet to eplore the fine print. The icing on the cake of this offer though is the extras thrown in- free sat nav and speed camera detection offered for the first month, and a special In-Car Assistance Button which apparently gives you 24 hour access to help. The future of insurance is looking up.

Pay As You Drive Insurance

Filed under: worth buying

Inchworm- Stretching the Life of your Shoes

With most companies nowadays promoting fast-fashion, disposable oInchwormptions, it’s nice to see that there are some who utilise new innovations to create products with more longevity. Inchworm shoes contain iFit technology which enables the shoe to expand up to three sizes, meaning one pair lasts a growing child on average six months longer.

The technology is easy to use- press the side button and pull the heel and toe away from each other to increase the shoe by half size increments. Sold in a variety of fun styles that appeal to their young audience, Inchworm have created a brilliantly simple, cost-effective idea that benefits both families and the environment.

Filed under: for the children, worth buying


Following along the same vein as the loud and vibrant graphics of KidRobot’s clothing line, comes the autumn/winter 2006 collection of videogame inspired pixel knitwear from Office Lendorff. As the designers themselves explain it-

“Our collection is inspired by arcade video games. A colourful and dynamic world of fast moving objects.”

As seen on the recent catwalks bold graphic prints are going to be taking over our lives and the 80s is definitely back- this collection seems to bring the two together in wonderfully bold dischordant harmony, so be one step of the trends and start wearing it now! Thanks to the guys over at wonderland for the great find

check out their website

Filed under: worth buying, ,