Greenwash is now a criminal act, brands beware!
Neil Andrew of One Food took greenwash a bit to far when he falsely
claimed to be selling organic products (salmon). Now big brands beware, Andrew
has just got banged away in prison for 27 months. Seems Northamptonshire County
Council trading standards and the Food Standards Agency don’t mess about when
it comes to greenwash. Lying about your green credentials to sell things is
fraud. This is the first time someone’s gone to jail but it symbolises how
serious organisations are starting to take lying. So could all those greenwash
ads for cars, lagers, petrol and many other products results in a few more
company chairmen doing porridge?
Organic food sales have slumped, no surprise in a recession. Firstly
organics are bought by many because they see them as quality and tasting better
rather than planet saving (sorry my green friends but that’s the way it is).
The real problem is greed, the supermarkets have been over pricing organics for
too long and given the recession they are first on the list of cutbacks.
As an ad on LBC suggests, when people are worried about their jobs,
savings and their home, trying to convince them they need to worry about the
planet is a non starter.
Yeo Valley, Tesco, Green & Blacks and a few others have been
reported to be considering pooling budget together to run an ad campaign
through the Organic Trade Board to try and reverse flagging sales. The solution
is simple, stop supermarkets over charging. I was called up by the BBC last week
to comment on this, “did I think an ad campaign would reverse sales”. “No “ I
Yes it could maybe if the strategy was dead right, the supermarkets
played ball and the media plan was right. But history tells you that these
brands will end up at the wrong agency (they’ll go for a safe big name), get
the wrong advice, a bland media plan and spend their money the wrong way.
Cynical maybe, but there are so many badly marketed green campaigns about, just
look at Stella (all my green friends think it’s a cynical campaign).
An interesting point, in the survey we carried out into ethical buying
of supermarket products (full details and results in the book Ethical Marketing
& the New Consumer) most people didn’t recognise the organics symbol. Well
it is terrible, the Soil Association really needs to have it redesigned, the
Tesco’s one is far better.
However, green cleaning products are suffering, the only exception being
recycled paper kitchen towels (well they are cheaper than posh ones). The cause
is price slashing. Consumers are faced with a dilemma, save money of save the
planet… umm… she thinks… save money. This is not helped by the fact that some
green cleaners don’t clean as well. Again this all comes down to the same
factor, greedy supermarkets charging too much.
Green legislation is a big worry for supermarkets, especially when it
comes to plastic bags. Of course no one wants knee jerk legislation from ill
informed politicians, more interested in saving face than saving the planet.
Packaging is still high on the agenda and challenges many brands. Kerrygold is
leading the food field with massive savings on packaging, over 90 tonnes
annually. But Britvic’s J20 outdoes Kerrygold as it is launching a lighter
bottle that could result in a saving of
4,000 tonnes, a 10% reduction on 40,000 tonnes of glass it produces.
Whereas organics may be suffering local isn’t. Groups like Spar have
seen a 5.2% rise in sales. However, this is not enough, the Federation of
Wholesale Distributors has been trying to get people to shop local by dumping
the car. The ‘My Shop Is Your Shop’ campaign is a good idea but the cheesy
title feels like it was dreamt up in a PR agency.