Purpose At Work: How Seventh Generation Leverages Media To Help The Climate Crisis

Why would a company donate thousands of dollars of ad space to something that doesn’t promote its brand or products?

“The economic incentive is that we will still have a business in 11 years from now,” Hanneke Willenborg, CMO of Seventh Generation, said. This statement comes in response to a recent United Nations study that concluded the planet has 11 years to act on climate before it will be too late to avoid detrimental and irreversible damages.

Seventh Generation, best known for its eco-friendly cleaning products, recently donated several advertising time slots on NBC’s Today Show to support the Global Climate Strike. The campaign is in partnership with 350.org, a climate advocacy nonprofit.

This purposeful media push supplements Seventh Generation’s overarching mission to ignite “a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations.” By donating airtime to promote environmental awareness, Seventh Generation is walking its talk when it comes to climate.

Today’s consumers want to support companies that contribute to society and the environment. Brands that dedicate time and resources to purpose-driven projects demonstrate the authenticity of their commitment to driving tangible change.

Here are top lessons from Seventh Generation’s decision to donate airtime to climate justice.

Celebrate your community:

Some companies feel like they need to get credit for the purposeful work they do. While showcasing your impact to conscious consumers is an important part of building a responsible business, it must be communicated carefully. Instead of promoting itself, a brand must be the celebrant — not celebrity — of its stakeholder community. In other words, your brand must put the spotlight on the people and communities you serve.

Seventh Generation is supporting the climate action community by supporting the Global Climate Strike. The Strike is being organized by youth activists from across the globe. Activists are asking participants to leave work in protest of the fossil fuel consumption. Events will be held around the globe from September 20th to September 27th. The Strike is taking place in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Action Summit, to be held in New York City later this month.

The lesson here is that you don’t have to overtly showcase your purposeful work to get consumers to associate your brand with impact. When you enable the people doing the work you want to see done, you will see knock-on business benefits such as goodwill and earned media, as well as help build a better world.

Join cultural conversations:

Purpose-driven work never sleeps. That said, there are times when society wakes up to particular issues impacting the world. For example, catastrophes, scandals and social movements are events that turn eyeballs towards specific causes. These events create opportunities for companies to join conversations that are larger than themselves. By joining these cultural conversations you can attract consumers that share your brand values.

The Global Climate Strike and United Nations Climate Summit are shifting people’s focus around the world towards climate action. By helping people and organizations rallying behind these events, Seventh Generation is leading the climate conversation. In turn, the brand is positioning itself as a partner in mitigating climate change.

The insight here is that using your advertising to connect with consumers around things that matter is a powerful way to foster emotional ties with your target audience. It’s also an important tool in expanding the reach of your marketing beyond your brand or industry.

Walk your talk:

Corporate social responsibility is now a fundamental part of business. Companies across the board, from Microsoft to Ford to Starbucks, are building reputations as purpose-driven leaders. To successfully grow your business through your social impact efforts, you must authentically act on your purpose. This means clearly stating goals and following them up with actions.

Seventh Generation is built around the idea of preserving the planet for the next seven generations. Of all the pressing social and environmental challenges we face, climate change will arguably have the largest impact on humanity and the planet for decades to come. By repurposing its media buy to progress climate action, Seventh Generation is putting its money where its mouth is and demonstrating the type of servant leadership we need from business to meet this challenge with equal force.

CEO We First Inc, author NYT's bestseller We First, strategic corporate consultant and trainer, father, Australian, optimist.

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