For close to 50 years, Earth Day has served to commemorate the need to take better care of the world we live in. Without a healthy planet, the quality of life that we and other living organisms on the planet enjoy will certainly diminish.
For decades, the country had enjoyed a boon driven by the growth of the industrial age. However, the toxic effluents, smoke, and sludge that were a byproduct would soon become a talking point that would inspire the modern-day ecological conservation efforts.
Having witnessed the devastation that a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara caused in 1969, the then U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson began a campaign for a healthier sustainable environment and chose April 22nd as a national day to focus on this. This hallmark campaign was a huge success, drawing bipartisan support not just from the political classes but also from the rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural dwellers, and so on. This widespread support and impressive countrywide turnout for demonstrations on April 22nd, 1970, resulted in the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the later passage of laws providing protections for clean water, clean air, and endangered wildlife.
Earth Day has since grown to become a worldwide phenomenon, drawing support from over a billion people in fighting for policy changes that will positively impact on such areas as climate change. Corporate entities have taken more notice of the public’s interest and how their commitment to environmental concerns affects customer loyalty and their bottom lines.
Generations Y and Z are the most vocal of the population on these issues and are using their wallets to make a statement. Companies that have been able to undertake smart marketing campaigns that bring attention to environmental and social issues have enjoyed improved patronage from these demographics. Their considerable buying power makes Gen Y and Z a powerful force that cannot be ignored. To elicit the best reaction, businesses have had to do more than just market. Proving that they are committed to efforts like sustainability and the use of eco-friendly materials at a fundamental level has worked best.
Over the last few years, there have been several noteworthy campaigns carried out focusing on Earth Day and building a sustainable future. Let’s look at some of the biggest brands that have done an impressive job of tying in this message with some self-promotion thrown in.
Naturally an allusion to Mother Earth, Apple put out this campaign for Earth Day 2019. Featuring a slew of shots touted to have been taken on an iPhone XS, the video displayed a wide selection of imagery from nature. The short bursts of video included close-ups and wide shots of various animals in their diverse habitats and sweeping visuals of fantastic landscapes ranging from mountain tops to desert dunes. The vibrancy of the colors and intensity of the images was made all the more thrilling by the soundtrack Last Rites by Megadeth.
Apple has long proven its commitment to environmental sustainability through other efforts such as mobile recycling programs, self-sufficient data centers that run off solar farms, and improved energy efficiency ratings on its devices. Clearly, the company is not only to just give lip service.
Another interesting campaign to come out in 2019 was from outdoor recreation retailer, North Face. Given that their business is built on the enjoyment of nature, it should come as no surprise that they would want that nature better preserved.
Using the headline: Earth Day Should Be a National Holiday – the ad was a petition seeking for support to have the governments around the world recognize this commemoration officially. The campaign invited the participation of artists, musicians, and influencers to help host a variety of events that would encourage people across different cities to disconnect from the internet and reconnect with their environment.
North Face has long supported conservation efforts since it’s beginning in 1966 and is currently a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The company has also made public declarations on its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Nike has been a reliable source of awesome and awe-inspiring advertising content for many years. Their campaigns have seen some of their product lines sell out in a matter of hours. Last year, they partnered with California based artist, Steven Harrington, to use some of his captivating imagery on some of their products made with sustainable and recycled raw materials. This included the use of Nike’s Flyleather fiber made from sustainable synthetics.
Leather has been a somewhat controversial concern in the apparel industry as it relies on the breeding of animals whose activity is a significant contributor to carbon emissions, deforestation, and drain on water resources. The tanning process of the leather involves the toxic chemicals that get into waterways and have proven carcinogenic to tannery workers. Not to mention the cruelty to animals who have to be killed to harvest this resource. Flyleather is significantly eco-friendlier as it is made using reclaimed leather that is typically thrown away in the manufacturing process. Also, it is lighter and more abrasion resistant than traditional leather.
The Earth Day Pack included three popular Nike shoes, the Air Force 1, Blazer Low, and Cortez. Each shoe got its own design featuring the common character of a cartoonified earth. Promoting the message of sustainability through art and sports apparel, Nike effectively used its global platform to not just demonstrate their commitment to the use of eco-friendly materials, but also why everyone should care just as much for our planet.
The successes of these campaigns have proven that businesses play an important role in bringing awareness to environmental and social causes. And, they don't need to wait till Earth Day to do so. With such a receptive market that can easily be connected with via a multitude of platforms, businesses can and should take advantage of digital media to craft and share messages for the benefit of all.
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