Get the power! Coalitions can help you move the market.

Get the power! Coalitions can help you move the market.

When companies work together on sustainability efforts, they can more easily push the creative envelope and increase their impact.

Shelton Group has a history of creating public service campaigns with the support of multiple sponsors.

These companies share mutual goals. By pooling resources, they can create a bigger impact together. And since these are joint initiatives, with no one sponsor singled out as the “lead dog,” the companies are less bound to their individual brand restrictions – meaning the campaign can be a bit more out of the box and truly attention-grabbing.

So why aren’t more companies and groups forming coalitions to meet their goals?

Many companies have big, hairy, audacious sustainability goals. Given the scope and size of these goals, you’d think every company in America had an army of people supporting them. In our experience, though, the sustainability department charged with hitting those big goals is often only one person, who might get to hire a couple of FTEs to help (if they’re lucky). And that team has virtually no money to spend against those goals.

So we’re hard at work creating some Big Ideas to solve some Big Problems. Our solutions center on opening eyes and drawing the attention needed to begin positive change. And, as always, we’re creating those ideas in a way that’s different – memorable and entertaining – while communicating to the right audience in the context of where they are and what they believe today.

One of the ways we’re doing that is by bringing multiple brands together around a common sustainability issue. The idea is for them to pool their resources and engage consumers together, simultaneously advancing each company’s objectives while also becoming a hero in the minds of consumers.

There are many issues that are relevant to many brands, so it’s possible to work together to tackle an issue. We know budgets are tight in the sustainability marketing arena; you can truly have more impact if you pool your resources.

There’s an added benefit in coalitions: You can take greater risks and send out a stronger message.

We learned this when we created the Wasting Water Is Weird coalition. (Check out the campaign here.) I’m fairly confident that none of the brands individually would have slapped their logo on this campaign – it’s too out there and risky.

But the campaign was successful because it was edgy. We’d like to see more brands coming together in coalition efforts like this, and we’re willing to help make it happen.

Two other issues come to mind as ripe for coalition: recycling and food waste.

In our Eco Pulse research, over 60 percent of consumers say they recycle. But the EPA tells us that only 30 percent of recyclable waste is recycled each year.

Something is off here. There’s a gap.

We hope to pull multiple brands together to launch the right campaign to bridge that gap.

Our research also tells us that food waste is the No. 1 sustainability issue Americans feel most guilty about. But just as it is with wasting water, that doesn’t mean they’re doing anything about it. We also hope to pull multiple brands together to move Americans to stop food waste where it makes most sense to them – in their refrigerators.

And here are two more: Dispelling the mythology about the need to wash in hot water could save vast amounts of energy and money. And showing homeowners how to improve the air quality in their homes can help alleviate a multitude of health problems, starting with asthma.

But these issues are best tackled as a team. Come together and make a bigger impact!


Posted on

August 30, 2013

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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