Friday, December 21, 2007

One of the Best Environmental Books Ever (And An Easy Read)

With two little kiddies at home who treasure our nightly bedtime story ritual, I recently rediscovered The Lorax, a powerful environmental fable first published by Dr. Seuss in 1971. First of all, Dr. Suess rocks. The Lorax has more of an edge than, say, Green Eggs and Ham, but it's become my all-time favorite. With whimsical illustrations and that amazing Seussian rhythm of words, the Lorax has inspired generations of kids and grown ups to consider the impact our culture of consumption has had on the planet and the living things that inhabit it. Check it out. A great gift. You don't need to be a five year old to dig it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Toyota's Eco-themed Promotional Campaign

We work in San Francisco and live in beautiful Marin, where the Toyota Prius -- with great fuel efficiency, modern style and smart branding -- is the top selling car of all. The Prius is perceived by progressive-minded locals as waaaaay cooler than a Mercedes or an SUV. Thank gawd.

Toyota Europe's most recent promotional campaign shows how well this brand "gets it". Forsaking the typical sex appeal or automotive hard sell, they instead use metaphor to underscore their difference and remind us of the challenges our planet faces in the coming year and beyond.

In a beautiful TV spot developed by Saatch & Saatchi, a spare kraft gift box marked "FRAGILE" is opened to reveal a delicate Christmas tree ornament that looks just like the planet earth. The ornament is carefully hung on a tree...followed by the words: "The world is in your hands. Treat it well."

Toyota may be an automotive giant that's part of a broader petroleum dependency problem, but more than its peers it has made a concerted effort to reduce the impact its vehicles have on the planet. This initiative has not only helped the brand, but it's helped consumers rethink what they want in a vehicle. They are using the power of good marketing and promotion to change the tired old auto industry -- and ultimately this effort is helping the planet. Beyond its promotional campaigns, we applaud Toyota of America's corporate team for successfully completing a 5-year Environmental Action Plan throughout its U.S. operations, and for immediately launching a new and more comprehensive eco initiative for the next five years.

To paraphrase Marty Neumeier in his excellent book, The Brand Gap: A brand is not a logo, a business card, or a product. A brand is a gut feeling we all have about a product, service, or company. Judging by all the Toyotas I see buzzing around Northern California, many smart progressive people feel good about the Toyota brand and its commitment to the environment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

About Sustainable Swag

Sustainable Swag provides fresh news on green marketing and the latest eco-friendly promotional products. We also post on the environment, corporate social responsibility, branding, and pop culture. Our mission is to encourage mainstream adoption of more sustainable products and consumption patterns. This blog is written by John Borg and hosted by Eco Imprints in San Francisco. Please join the dialogue or email us at: