How Viral Does Green Marketing Get?

September 2, 2008 at 10:49 pm Leave a comment

Viral marketing is a concept that few of us environmentalists are naturally inclined to take up in a technical sense. Yet there’s no denying that green has got wonderful potential when it comes to creatively using the internet to spread messages.

It’s surprising that there’s hardly any attention from the either marketing professionals for green or from “green eco-battle-axes” in cross fertilizing with the marketer guys. Everybody who knows the very basics of marketing knows that keeping up with the trends is something that’s the hallmark of any successful marketer. Green marketing, whilst a hype in the high street shops, is not so much an online viral gimmick most likely because it’s simply too earthy.

For the record, a viral campaign is usually a short video clip that is so hilariously compelling that prospective customers simply forward it to many others who in turn do the same, thereby generating the advertiser’s free publicity reaching millions at a rapid speed.

Think of some viral ad campaigns and I bet you there’s hardly an eco issue among them. A recent top ten of the most viral ad campaigns in the Times Online revealed not one single eco issue among the ranking which topped Nike and also included skater Mark Ecko.

No doubt viral is sooo 2007 –there’s not one ‘Top 10 viral ads’ ranking on the entire web this year — but I have a hard time thinking what might have replaced the self propagating campaigns as the most heralded easy money spinners for the ad industry. Perhaps it’s a semantics issue – perhaps the 2008 talk is about ‘community marketing’, ‘social network marketing’ as opposed to ‘viral marketing’, which sounds a bit lost territorially speaking. The guys who came up with the term viral marketing are fast paced themselves and many have moved to different pastures and no doubt will bump into green issues too.

Take Jeremiah Owyang, a web strategist familiar with the subject. Having zealously compiled a top ten viral ads ranking last year too, he comments “I’d rather build a thriving community of customers, users, partners, and employees than risk all my resources on the potential to get a one hit wonder.”

Right. That’s probably where the green angle is to come to fruition. My bet? One vital element in green online marketing will be knowledge and wisdom. If you’re anything like me you’ll be amazed every day how environmentalists are proven to have been right all along when reading news articles about the economy, companies and organizations. And that ‘told you so’ point is important in the future context of green marketing. Now that environmentalists are getting their way in just about every area of public and corporate life, their information is in demand. That’s new. Viral marketing of green issues will only work in cases that we’re all waiting for wisdom and knowledge (eco is simply not funny most of the times yet) to confirm that what’s authentic actually is authentic.

The most powerful example of this is eco activist Van Jones’ newly launched book “The Green Collar Economy,” which was published this month. It made it to 12th place on the New York Times best sellers list within a week from being launched.

The reasons behind the book’s success? Van Jones’ authentic message plus a clever viral marketing strategy. The visionary’s own organization Green For All can be mostly credited with the marketing success. The organization contacted around 150 different organizations of all shapes and sizes, according to Van Jones’ grassroots publicity coordinator Alli Chagi-Starr. Endorsements of the book by many organizations worked miracles. For instance, the Environmental Defense Fund recommended the book to its 500,000 members. An online strategy involved getting the owners of to promote the book as well and contacting all the environmental bloggers they knew.

Another example of a recently launched viral green ad is All’s Dude we can fix it campaign supporting Al Gore’s We can solve it climate organization whose goal is to have America’s electricity generated from non-fossil fuel sources within 10 years. The ad agency has dedicated its creative muscle power –built up in the last ten years- to ‘fixing the climate crisis’. by mobilizing experts in experiential, viral, public relations and influencer marketing persuade people to contribute at least $10 to the cause of energy independence. The campaign runs on a series of sketch comedy video spoofs of people trying to be green but whose tactics are far from effective.

Entry filed under: Green Marketing, Green News.

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