In order to effectively communicate their green commitments companies must bridge the gap between technical and marketing experts, AdAge reports.
Since more than 70 percent of consumers link marketers’ social responsibility to their environmental behavior, sustainability officers and marketers must make their missions one and the same.
Sustainability officers are gaining in popularity, but there are questions about how much power they really wield. Although Wal-Mart has a sustainability officer, Senior VP-Sustainability Matt Kistler, fewer than 10 people report directly to him. Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg suggests that sustainability departments be integrated into the business so everyone has a commitment to the cause, not just those in the department.
A separation between company techies and the marketing division, like we’re used to seeing, can lead to mixed or ineffective messaging, says Peter Knight, of sustainability consultancy Context.
“The clever companies are making sure there are interpreters along the way. The non-savvy are either not doing anything or relying on marketing people to understand this,” Knight says.
The sustainability officer’s role is that of “missionary” and a relationship “broker” among a company’s marketing gurus, techies and high-level decision makers, including boards of directors.
That mission should have a positive ROI and generate a better return than other marketing efforts, says Mike Hess, director-global research and consumer insights for Omnicom Group. Consumers, in fact, are relying on brands to take responsibility for reducing the impact of climate change as governments fail to make progress, according to research by Havas Media.
AdAge interviews Procter & Gamble’s VP-global sustainability Len Sauers here.