Is All This Green Talk Making You Turn Blue?

green.jpgEco-friendly fever has rapidly become mainstream, sweeping the nation by storm. You are either green or you aren't. Marketers have created programs that tout green products, donate money to global conservation efforts, and have even tried to make their processes and systems more eco-friendly along the way. Americans talk green, but do they act green? Do consumers really understand the eco-benefits that companies are claiming?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers don't - a key reason for why the government agency is cracking down on its green guidelines and forcing companies to show reliable evidence of their efforts. In reality, few consumers understand how their dollars help the planet and companies lacking true messaging campaigns will begin to pay the price. The FTC will begin to mandate that companies explain to consumers exactly what benefits are derived from their environmental efforts through clear, understandable messaging.

In other words, if you are going to create a green initiative for your team/sports organization, act with sincerity and in doing so, explain exactly what you are doing to consumers. Has the sports marketplace been slow to adapt to the green movement? Not necessarily. Recognizing how highly consumers "say" they value the eco-friendly initiatives, more teams and corporate sponsors than ever are responding:

  • The Buffalo Sabres recently announced a "Blue & Gold Make Green Initiative" where the team is aligning with National Fuel Gas Co. to become environmentally friendly and hand out 5,000 conservation kits to fans that attended their Feb. 17th home contest. 
  • Gas and energy companies are using green messaging to make a social connection with fans through their sports partnerships.
  • The Washington Nationals are creating the first big league sports facility with a green roof; the ballpark will feature a 6,300 square foot roof that is covered with plant grass and other plants. The green roof is designed to absorb the sun's rays and reduce the amount of reflected heat.
  • NBC's Sunday Night Football has demonstrated numerous "energy conservation efforts", including a feature where the network aired its halftime coverage in the dark to save electricity.
  • The Pepsi Center become the first sports arena in the United States to claim "100 percent Green" status by announcing it will buy enough renewable energy to offset all electricity used at the arena. Arena officials also announced a program to encourage fan involvement in environmental issues, a package of improvements to the 9-year-old facility, and the arena's involvement in the Environmental Protection Agency's "Climate Leaders" program -- again, the first in the United States by a sports arena (3/17, Newswire)
  • The Cleveland Indians announced an environmental campaign termed, "Our Tribe Is Green... Are You In The Tribe?". The campaign is supported with "green concessions efforts" - recycable paper, corn starch cups, and recycable containers (SBJ 3.24.07)
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates launched "Let's Go Bucs. Let's Go Green." to stimulate green initiatives, business practices, and educational outreach (SBJ 3.24.07)

However, when going green act with caution. Mike Lawrence, EVP of Cone LLC in Boston, said it best, "Green marketing is a minefield and a fertile field at the same time. Marketers see the polls and want to take advantage of the green movement. In the process they may be shooting themselves in the foot."

On a side note: Starbucks' current "Green Slogan" for its paper products is pretty good:

Less Napkins. More Plants. More Planet. Less Napkins.