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Buying indulgences through greenwashing is problematic
More often than not do advertising slogans contradict the corporation’s values, or symbols that do not match the message being conveyed. The buying of indulgences – washing away your sins – through greenwashing and hypocritical marketing trends are worrying and misleading the public. Our audiences increasingly demand more transparency and social responsibility from companies, and therefore it is becoming impossible to separate marketing objectives from a company’s business objectives. Either you strive for greater responsibility or you don’t.
I became a leader in the era where leaders and entrepreneurs believed profit to be the most important goal of a businesses – many of them still think the same. Whilst that won’t change any time soon, I believe a new dimension requiring an equal amount of attention has emerged.
Not just economic indicators
Businesses and organisations should not only focus on economic indicators, but also be aware of their impact on the surroundings – both the environment and society. In fact, evaluating the positive and negative, direct and indirect, intentional and unintended effects of one’s activities is strongly related to making a profit, as all of these are translatable into finances.
A simplified example – if your manufacturing pollutes the environment and you do not invest in sustainable solutions, your company values will no longer meet the expectations of the labor market nor the consumers, and sooner or later that will affect your profit figures.
Evaluating own actions before acting
Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the impact of one’s actions before shaping marketing and communications activities and messages. More often than not do I see advertising slogans that do not match the corporation’s values or symbols that contradict the message being conveyed.
I am deeply concerned about the buying of indulgences through greenwashing and the hypocritical marketing trends. Those are the moments you want to ask the marketer “why are you doing this?”. Good intentions, creative messages, and a pat on the back at a board meeting are not enough when the sales goal has been achieved. Marketing and communications must be meaningful, in line with the business objectives and have a positive social impact.
And yes, I do believe that before we know it – sustainability will be the only way for companies to become successful. Businesses’ mentality has to change and taking a stance naturally means taking action for it to be really meaningful.
Annika Arras, Managing Director and partner at Miltton New Nordics
May 28, 2020
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Annika Arras Managing Director and partner at Miltton New Nordics