Greenwashing, Be Gone! A tool to help companies assess their eco-friendliness

Posted by: Reena Jana on September 4, 2007

Yes, you’ve heard of the dangers of greenwashing, or cloaking a product or company in adspeak that screams “natural” or “sustainable” when in fact said product or company might not be as earth-friendly as it may seem. (Check out “A Debate on Greenwashing” that ran on Businessweek.com’s Innovation and Design Channel in July.)

One New York-based ad agency, Green Team Advertising, has come up with a program called the Awakening Audit; the process entails sending an environmental engineer and media strategists to a corporation to see if it’s indeed walking the green walk by maintaining a supply chain that’s truly sustainable. The audit takes about 3 months to complete, and Green Team advises how companies can quickly fix their mistakes and what elements of their supply chain can be touted as truly eco-friendly as an advertising tactic, among other issues. So far, skin-care product maker Aveeno (owned by Johnson & Johnson) has completed an Awakening Audit.

But is this just a trendy gimmick, to, well, help Green Team market its services when sustainability is chic?

Green Team’s long history suggests otherwise. The agency has spent 14 years – much longer than the current eco-chic movement – working on ad campaigns for companies such as the World Wildlife Fund and big-time brands such as Jaguar. And the agency’s new in-house environmental engineer who oversees the audit, Stan Kaczmarek, was formerly Director of Global Environmental Affairs at Johnson & Johnson and a senior engineer at Exxon.

What’s potentially helpful to corporations interested in an Awakening Audit is that they don’t have to be advertising clients of Green Team to benefit from this tool. According to Green Team’s founder and president, Hugh Hough, the service is open to any company interested in being audited. One idea: turn to Green Team for the audit and cull preliminary advice for a communications strategy that focuses on green issues before discussing an eco-themed campaign with your on-going advertising agency or internal marketing staff. Interested? Check out Green Team’s site: http://www.greenteamusa.com

Reader Comments

Alex de Laiglesia

September 16, 2007 11:40 PM

Green Team appear to have a great deal of experience and expertise in an area that is becoming a major issue for the corporate world. I am responsible for corporate sustainability at Shinsei Bank, a Japanese bank, and I am currently considering having Green Team conduct an awakening audit here. I think that an article in BusinessWeek about Green Team's audit services would certainly be appreciated by many corporations around the world.

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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