Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sustainable Single-Mindedness

One of the biggest problems facing green companies is the sheer amount of education behind their products. To get this information across to the public can be a big feat.

Take organic food.

With every piece sold there is a story behind it: where it is grown, the treatment of the workers, the treatment of the suppliers, the toxins in the environment, not to mention the legitimacy of the organic certification in the first place. All the way to how the packaging materials and advertising affect the environment. It is a whole process that needs to be communicated.

The same goes for organic cotton shirts or coffee. No pesticides, no slave labour, no cruelty, fair conditions, fair trade certification, etc.

This is a lot of information to get across to the average consumer with a 1 second attention span who takes in over 2000 messages a day.

There is so much background information to digest that it often leaves the socially conscious business two options – to fill an ad with so much information that no one will ever read it, or preach to the choir.

Socially conscious and LOHAS businesses need to use the tactics that major corporations have been employing since the beginning: A single-minded focus.

The best advertising has condensed their message down to one single idea. It is the only thing an advertisement can expect a time-starved consumer to understand.

Of all the agency work I've seen, I think that McCann-Erickson are the masters of the single-minded message. They are a seasoned agency, with some major blue chip clients such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Michelin, so they are doing something right.


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