More and more companies are returning to a green agenda as the economic recovery starts to gather pace. Large businesses and government bodies, small social enterprises and SMEs are once again starting to promote their environmental credentials.
A recent example was the Ricoh Company Ltd’s “Ricoh Global Eco Action” initiative. The company stepped up its global green message by turning off all the lights on its billboards, Ricoh logo signboards and night lighting facilities at all Group companies around the world on the night of June 5, United Nations World Environment Day. The only exceptions were the 100% eco-powered billboards in New York (Times Square), London and Sydney.
Ricoh’s decision to switch off all lit billboards globally was clearly a top down approach but was combined this year with a second initiative aimed at its staff; “THINK & ACT. Think and act on your own.” Employees were individually encouraged to focus on energy conservation at work and at home, to host and participate in environmental events and take other actions that reflect their concerns for the environment. Turning off the lights for just one night does not seem a significant saving in energy terms but it does highlight the company’s commitment to raise awareness and instigate action both internally and externally.
The message associated with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and environmental responsibility is as strong as ever. Consumers still want businesses to show leadership in this area. The difference now is that organisations are starting to channel resources towards it once again. The downturn certainly had an impact on initiatives like this; companies large and small cut back and focused on core strengths and spending money where they felt they would get the best return on investment. Budgets for promotions in general were cut but those set aside previously for promoting green issues were slashed.
The downturn could be a benefit too. The lack of money has focussed people’s and companies attention to spend money more wisely. Coming out of this downturn I hope we see real and sensible policies put in place that are sustainable and that means making savings. Looking to environmental responsibility as a way to actually save money and become more efficient means these initiatives will last and become main stream. Gimmicky stunts and spurious claims are seen now for what they are and scorned more readily.
As marketing departments start to re-visit CSR and green centric campaigns, we as an industry, must be ready with worthwhile, useful and suitable gift ideas. Please don’t undermine the Green Shoots of recovery with throw away, needless gift ideas; offer something sustainable, long lasting and therefore better all round.