Going green is certainly the trend for 2008 for everyone from corporate bigwigs looking to position their company in the right light to consumers trying to reduce their carbon footprints in their own homes.
But marketers undertaking mobile marketing programs face a unique challenge. The very premise behind most tours—taking a fuel-guzzling big-rig on the road to cities across the country in an effort to connect with as many consumers or prospects as possible—pretty much flies in the face of the green philosophy that asks us to have as little of an impact on the environment as possible. Mobile marketing remains an effective way for many brands to make a face-to-face connection with consumers no question. And as the popularity of mobile marketing grows so do the ways that mobile marketers have to make their tours a little more environmentally friendly.
Some brands like SoBe have been incorporating green initiatives into their event programs for several years. But now that more options are out there it makes green seem like less of a trend and more of a mainstay. “If anything we’re going to keep doing more in the future ” says Brian Stephenson senior marketing manager-sports and grassroots at SoBe.
Here four ways that marketers can make their tours a little more earth friendly:
Biofuels. The latest buzzword among mobile marketers looking for greener alternatives? Biofuels. Biodiesel the most popular option is produced from domestic renewable resources through a process known as transesterification where glycerin is removed from fat or vegetable oil. Most vehicles don’t go for the pure stuff and instead use a more practical biodiesel blend says Andrew Kellar one of the founders of Simply Green which has provided biofuels for a variety of entertainment acts on the road including Dave Matthews and Guster.
The biggest problem facing marketers looking for biodiesel right now: availability. It’s not as easy as a quick swing by the nearest Shell Station on the road although the numbers are growing. Kellar recommends working with an organization such as Portland ME-based Reverb Rock which works with brands and musicians to locate biofuel resources on the road. But one of the upsides of choosing biodiesel is that in a pinch the engines can still run diesel just as effectively.
“We felt that biodiesel over some of the other options just works better for us because it still gives you the flexibility that if you can’t find biodiesel and you have to use regular diesel it won’t hurt your engine ” Stephenson says.
In addition brands can start looking for biofuel opportunities as early as the RFP process. Some marketing agencies such as St. Clair Shores MI-based Mobility Resource Associates are making a company-wide move to biodiesel and other green initiatives.
Carbon Offsets. Another popular option for marketers is carbon offsets. As part of Volkswagen’s recent Dieselution Tour—which was designed to educate consumers about recent improvements in diesel fuels—the brand set up an account with carbonfund.org to offset carbon emissions. For every Volkswagen purchased across the country during the fourth quarter of last year Volkswagen paid for the buyer’s first year of offsets. Funds generated through carbonfunds.org go toward the reforestation of the VW forest in the lower Mississippi valley in northern Louisiana.
Materials. One factor environmentally conscious marketers should keep in mind is the materials used in the event build. “When we build exhibits we look to use materials made out of renewables ” says Phil Chizek vp-strategic services at MRA. “Not everything is available yet but we are able to find sources for green carpet and some of the materials we use for interactives.”
Chizek says that when looking for sustainable materials brands should look to see if the vendor is affiliated with some sort of green organization or alliance to ensure credibility. He also advises brands and event builders to turn to resources like the U.S. Green Building Council (usgbc.org) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System to get an idea as to how builders are incorporating green materials and initiatives into permanent settings.
The Little Things. Other green initiatives that mobile marketers can embrace mirror measures that marketers executing static event programs are taking with their programs. One thing: recycling. Although it’s not as easy or convenient to recycle on the road doing preliminary research and contacting local municipalities for recycle locations will go a long way toward greening your tour. “We develop a recyclables list ahead of time including any waste that we can recycle ” says Kristi Mason manager-marketing and program tactics at Manchester NH-based Gigunda Group.
Some marketers also look to incorporate green materials when possible into giveaways and other regular day-to-day activities. For Tide’s CleanStart laundry tour the brand now uses green kraft paper to wrap laundry. “When you’re doing 4 000 loads of laundry over the course of a program that ends up being a lot of kraft paper ” Mason says (Gigunda handled).
SoBe has been doing its part by greening its event giveaway t-shirts. Two years ago the brand switched to organic tees. In the time since the brand has gone even greener by switching to shirts made with a blend of bamboo and cotton. “It’s anti-microbial and it’s better as far as sustainability because bamboo grows back very quickly ” Stephenson says.
The company also targeted sampling in its greening efforts. After testing out a variety of enviro-friendly cups the brand settled on a corn-based cup that’s branded sturdy and works for the company’s touring efforts. “We were concerned because we wanted to find something that wouldn’t break down while we were traveling in the heat of the summer ” Stephenson says. “Size-wise these actually work better than our old sample cups. They’re all biodegradable and compostable so we’re pretty happy about that too.”