As a BusinessWeek subscriber, I look forward to Saturdays when I get the upcoming week's edition. BusinessWeek is never as "meaty" as my favorite magazine, Wired, but it is a fast read, more focused (all business, all the time), and keeps me informed. In this issue, the January 22, 2007 edition, I noticed a trend that mirrors a topic I have been writing about often – the potential of "green" products (see my Dec. 30th, 2006 post).
First, on page 6 there is a full-page ad from The Home Depot, one of our clients. It is titled "What do you call a year in which you sell 63 million Earth-friendly products? A healthy start". This ad has a corresponding Web presence, but it is a little hard to find and it isn't mentioned in the ad. Unfortunately, you can't yet shop for these "Earth-friendly products" online and searching for "Earth friendly" on their Web site doesn't return any results.
Second, on page 14 there is an article about Wal-Mart putting out an RFP to install solar panels at stores and distribution centers in five states. It could generate as much as 150 megawatts of power, which would dwarf the largest corporate solar power project in the U.S. (the 1.6 megawatt project by Google). I have been chronicling Wal-Mart's move to organics in previous posts (see my August, 2006 post). As the largest company in the world, their scale is amazing. And when their CEO, Lee Scott, announced a year ago that he wants to eventually convert Wal-Mart's operations to 100% renewable energy, it attracted a great deal of attention (and set the marker for others to eventually follow the leader).
Third, on page 15 there is an ad from BASF titled "Home, sweet hybrid home", which talks about their "Near-Zero Energy Home" initiative in Paterson, New Jersey. You can learn more here (click on the house).
Fourth, on page 20-21 Honda has an ad titled "The most fuel-efficient auto company in America". I have seen this ad several times before and like their term "Environmentology". They have a Web presence to continue this ad, but it is hidden in very small font. Here it is. Why bury this in such small font?
Finally, on page 45 Hitachi has an ad titled "Coal's Comeback: The True Story of Clean Power in Council Bluffs". This ad is geared towards the Web and plays a documentary film series. They even have a smart strategy to get bloggers to write about this and give them code to insert a videoplayer into their post.
There are very few ads in the rest of the magazine and no more about green products. This issue's ads, more than any other I remember, are focused on "green". And remember this is BusinessWeek, not some magazine like GOOD.
Maybe this is all selective perception on my part. Or maybe ad agencies and their clients are quickly awakening to the word-of-mouth potential of green. What do you think?
I spoke with our client at The Home Depot and here is what he had to say about the ad mentioned above (and the green trend):
"It is definitely a big push for the company as we see it as a win-win opportunity. I think we all agree that the less impact we can have on the environment, no matter how small, is always a good idea. Highlighting the products that are making a concerted effort to do this is the right thing to do. From a business standpoint, consumers are much more aware of environmental issues today than they were 10 years ago. This heightened awareness translates into stronger sales opportunities for environmentally-conscious products. People are willing to spend $5 on a light bulb that will save them money in the long run!"
"I think if consumers are presented with similar products and one is more "eco-friendly" than another they will choose the eco-friendly product. The Home Depot has recognized this and will start to merchandise more with this in mind. Wal-Mart's light-bulb campaign is a great example of this!"
According to today's Iconoculture Iconowatch online newsletter, green is the big trend at the Detroit Auto Show. Glad we are going to have real options soon without sacrificing the space, power, and handling we have become used to. For more on this, check out my previous post on the Tesla and EV1.
Business 2.0's cover-story for their current issue is "Go Green, Get Rich", and The Economist's is "The greening of America". This is why I am a technology optimist. I believe that the problem is too large for entrepreneurs to not rally to the cause and earn the billions, perhaps even trillions (if you consider that the remaining oil may be worth $100 trillion by some calculations), to solve these problems and feel good about it in the process!