The Absolute Truth About Marketing
Monday, October 23, 2006
  “An Opportunist’s Guide To Global Warming (and How To Make Money From It By Doing The Right Thing)”
Is your brand "Carbon Credited"™ yet? The time to start thinking about Global Warming is now, when your can gain maximum leverage by early mover advantage in your category. Our "Carbon Credited"™ program is an advisory service that covers mapping your organisation's carbon footprint, developing options for becoming a 'carbon neutral' brand, developing opportunities for engaging your brand's stakeholders and helping them learn to manage Climate Change in their own lives. You and your clients can avoid being lost in the upcoming rush of 'me toos', and be seen as visionary and proactive. Make a buck while making a name for yourself for making a difference. Email me or phone 02 9484 6761. You don't have much time. The issue is getting hotter.


That was the ad. Sandy from a marketing communications agency in Melbourne, Australia asked me to explain the issue and how he can help his clients. This was my reply:


Every company and every individual has a “carbon footprint” or CO2 load that is shed on their behalf as a result of their energy consumption – whether it be a power company burning coal to provide electricity to run their lights and appliances and equipment... or the car they drive or the bus they ride on... or the factory burning carbon in the form of coal (for electricity) or oil (for combustion engines). Just by living a modern consumer lifestyle we are emitting greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc), either directly or by proxie. This would not be so bad if the carbon cycle remained in balance. Carbon cycles through the air, is sucked into the soil or the ocean by photosynthesis and other processes, released again by plants at night or by farmers ploughing fields or burning stubble, or people burning wood in fireplaces, or green waste rotting, etc. The world was able, until 200 years ago, to keep the CO2 in balance. But 200 years ago man’s impact on the atmosphere increased as he started spreading out across the face of the globe after the Industrial Revolution gave us the power to do more labour with fewer people. The machines were powered by wood, then coal, then oil. Coal and Oil were once organic matter – plants and animals are mostly made of carbon – that was locked up under the earth’s crust, retired from the cycle. Man released it and the world was incapable of sucking up (“sequestering”) enough of this ‘free radical’ CO2. And the natural level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, for so long held at around 250 ppm (parts per million), rose to 300+ ppm. It is climbing inevitably towards 400ppm. This is a problem for the earth’s atmosphere because there is a natural layer of greenhouse gases which regulates how much of the sun’s rays bounce around on earth and how much passes back out. When this layer gets thicker, more of the sun’s rays are trapped, like in a greenhouse. The result: the temperature rises. If the mean temperature of the earth’s atmosphere rises 1°C we get unusual weather events and ice caps at the poles start to melt. If it rises 2°C, we encounter severe weather events, higher temperatures, lower rainfall in some places, higher/heavier rainfall in other places. Greenland could melt and the sea level rise to inundate low lying islands and coastal regions. If it rises by 3°C, a major ice melt in the North Atlantic could completely stop the ‘conveyor belt’ in the oceans that distributes warm water around and maintains the water temperature. The last time this stopped, it caused an Ice Age in Europe. Extreme weather events such as typhoons, catastrophic landslips and wind storms are likely... At this level, crops could fail, transport and distribution infrastructure is destroyed, the complex economies that underpin our lifestyles could break down, millions of people are displaced and converge on other countries, causing a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions. A leaked scenario document from the Pentagon predicted that Australia could be invaded by a flotilla of people from Asia forced to search for living space. Our military forces are not large enough to withstand the sheer volume. The world’s scientists have agreed among themselves that, no matter what we do, the temperature is going up at least 2°C. What can we do to avoid 4°C? Two things: 1. stop emitting as much CO2 as we can asap. 2. Suck up as much CO2 out of the atmosphere that we can (Sequester it) asap. The nations of the world spent 10 years negotiating the Kyoto Protocol which would phase in limits on what companies could emit, hoping to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2030. 167 nations signed and ratified and two nations refused at the last minute: USA and Australia. All the others agreed to start a ‘cap and trade’ system. (Some developing nations were allowed to stay out of round 1, ending in 2012, and join round 2. Australia and USA objected to this because China and India are fast becoming the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest emitters. The USA is responsible for around 35%-40% of the world’s emissions (when you factor in their footprint in other countries which manufacture goods to be imported into the USA.) Cap and Trade means you are given your target as a nation and the nation in turn gives its industries their caps or reduction targets, and the companies get their caps. And they set about finding out what their emissions are and how they are being produced. They look for ways to cut down emissions, eg. reduce power usage. There are lots of ways to do it. But few can meet their caps, so they “trade” carbon credits with companies or organisations who have ‘sequestered” carbon. This can be done by growing a forest, setting up a wind farm, and there are other techniques. These ‘credits’ enable the buyer to become ‘carbon neutral’. By doing this the company or family or individual have done their bit in the global effort to avoid the worst outcomes predicted for the earth if we allow the temperature to rise much more than 2°C. But other steps will need to be taken to prepare for the expected disruptions to business as usual. Risk management projects could be launched within the organisation to develop responses to potential threats, ie. Loss of power, increased temperatures, disruption of transport systems, and the like. Insurance companies will want to know what their plans are. SO stakeholders (shareholders, customers, suppliers, regulators, financiers, insurers) will need to be engaged in the ‘story’ of carbon and how it could affect the company and them. Companies that act early based on a vision and a sense of leadership will gain a brand bonus. Those who do it because they are forced to do it will not. Cap and Trade is a reality in NSW and VIC. It will be a reality as soon as Bush steps down (if he is not shamed into it sooner) and John Howard will follow. Industry (including some power companies but no coal companies) are demanding a market-driven regime to help them plan their liabilities and gain certainty. The majority opinion in the USA is that it is inevitable because, try as they may, Governments cannot control the weather. The upcoming elections for the US Congress and Senate are expected to deliver control back to the Democrats, who are in favour of cap and trade. Corporate leaders, such as the CEO of the world’s largest financial institution, GE Credit, are planning for it. Many companies in both countries have voluntarily entered into arrangements to reduce their emissions. It is better to start now when demand factors mean carbon credits are less expensive than they will be once the tsunami arrives.

What we offer:

We help companies like yours introduce the concept to their clients.
We help your clients determine their carbon footprint.
We help them analyse their potential emission savings.
We help them choose ‘abatement’ instruments – Clean Development Mechanisms, Renewable Energy Credits, Carbon Credits.... There have emerged a range of vehicles. Some of them are kosher. Some of them are ‘junk’. Some of them will blow up in their buyers’ faces when the environmental lobby ‘outs’ them. We know which is which.
We help companies plan their stakeholder engagement process.
We help their communications suppliers to put together the education platform for each stakeholder group.
We help the company start the journey confident that they are on the front foot.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
  There will be no marketing

There will be no marketing if our governments don't take real action on climate change. All the experts agree, a cap and trade market is the most cost efficient and effective solution. It moves companies and emitters to take action quickly. It doesn't destroy economies - the EU is still afloat. John Howard and George Bush are arguing over the price of lifeboats on a sinking ship. Already the US media has tagged Bush as "The worst president in history" for his track record of bad decisions: Rumsfeld, Iraq, climate change, mega-deficit, allowing Osama to escape during the Afghan War, the erosion of the Bill of Rights... the list goes on. The worst is yet to come - the humiliation of defeat in Iraq, the economic crisis due to trillion dollar debt, the extreme weather events, all will come home to roost after he has stepped down. The American public have finally seen through their 9/11-induced paranoia and decided the President has no clothes. He is just a poor, ruthless, dumb redneck mofo with spin. What's Howard's excuse? Obsessed by right wing ideology, blinded to reality, he too will go down in history as the Prime Minister who took us into Iraq and Global Warming.
Here's a question for all you Clever Conservative Climate Sceptics:
How much stuff can you sell to people when the rail system shuts down because the rails buckle in the heat and the road system falls apart because the surface breaks up... when cities run out of water for industry... when a relative of Cyclone Catrina slams into a coastal city in Australia... when, as the pentagon predicted in a leaked secret report, a huge flotila of refugees from Asia and the Pacific arrive in such numbers from their sunken lands that our military forces are overwhelmed?
WHy are climate sceptics all conservatives? Why are conservatives unable to understand the environment as anything other than as something to be pillaged as a source of wealth and a dumping ground? Such intellectual homogeneity. How is it possible? Do they have a gene missing?
  Qantas tortures its passengers
Geoff Dixon
Qantas Airways

Dear Geoff,

Have you flown your own airline economy class to an overseas destination
laytely? I can’t believe you have. No sane person would knowingly subject
fellow human beings to such discomfort. Only the rich and the footsoldiers
of the rich can afford comfortable air travel today. Forget the toxic food
and queues for the toilets. I can live with that. It’s space I need. As I
sit here on QF129 to LA (13 hours) I can't open my laptop far enough to see
the screen and type.

I know who decides how much space I have. You. Because you set the revenue
targets and they determine how many rows of seats you put in each aircraft
and therefore how little space is available to the passenger in each seat. I
can see those little rubber strips on the floor covering the train tracks
you slide the seats along. How do you determine how much space to allow
between seats? Measure out how much a normal human being would require for a
comfortable experience, and then shove it back far enough to guarantee no
sitting position is painless? If the aim is to cause sufficient pain that
you force us into business class for a fat margin, I can help you there.
Why not hire some really hard bastards with big sticks to whack economy
class passengers on the head until we agree to pay for an upgrade? This is
only slightly more ridiculous than what you do to us already.


Michael Kiely
Monday, October 16, 2006
  Opportunity knocks?
Alan Jones calls global warming "pretend science". (LOL)

I just spent 3 weeks in the States where the papers were full of two topics: Congressman Mark Foley's follies and Global Warming. We met with some of the top scientists dealing with climate change in the USA and here's a fact they all agree on: no matter what we do about global warming, we can't stop it. We can only hope to reduce the speed of its increase and the maximum temperature it eventually hits. It won't be long before the real 'crisis' of Climate Change sets into the public mind. Inevitably we will have a fearful consumer. Lacking confidence in the future, they will be less inclined to spend. They will spend on entertainments (the Great Depression coincided with the rise of Hollywood's dream machine) and protection (survivalist products for coping in extreme weather events). Some areas will boom naturally. Some will be caught like rabbits in a spotlight. But the brands that have engaged their customers in the Climate Change story and shown they understand the issue, these brands will endure and contribute to the important work of maintaining morale. (See "Carbon Credited Opportunity" below.) As Winston Churchill told the people of Britain in their darkest hour, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."


Thursday, October 12, 2006
  Who's taking stupid pills?
I stayed in a hotel on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus. The hotel was named after a high profile professor of marketing whose name I forget, but he's a prolific author. The Hotel was part of the Fisher School of Business which promotes itself in a way that calls into question the marketing smarts. It declares proudly in posters and brochures that Business Week magazine ranked it 13th Business School in the world. 13th? You can hear the marketing department struggling to convince the Head of School to use their higher ranking in the USA as the headline. But no, the good professor insists that his institution is world class and should be presented as such. Who wants to be known as 13th, to go to a school that is 13th? You're either top 10 or you're not telling.

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  Blurred Vision In The Land Where Nothing's Free
This is the head of the queue waiting to register to have their luggage sent to them the next day after American Eagle unloaded their bags on the runway at Dallas Airport when the pilot decided the aircraft was overloaded. After waiting more than 6 hours for a flight, having been bumped several times off several flights, after arriving in College Station, Texas 2 hours after kickoff time for the Texas A&M University home game for which they were all coming down to see, they were told they had to wait while a clerk could be found to take their details. Everyone was pissed off. But nothing surprises me about the US airlines.

We heard them appealing to passengers waiting to board flights to surrender their tickets in return for ttavel vouchers because they had overbooked the flights - how does this happen in the era of real time computing? It was pure Seinfeld. No wonder they ahd to put signs in the bars in the airport warning people carrying guns to behave themselves.

Why put up meaningless Vision Statements about reliability? Why not tell the truth: "We are only human. They don't pay enough to get really good people, because you won't pay enough for an airline ticket. If you get shitty service, it's all you can afford. Don't take it out on me."

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