Monday, 4 June 2007

PSFK - Mind The Gap

The picture above is one I took while strolling one Sunday along Wimbledon Common a few weeks back. The guy was taking macro photography pictures of new appearances in insect life that hadn't been previously recorded and were appearing due to the changes in the British climate disrupting the ecosystem. Specifically, he was capturing a wasp like creature killing a dung-beetle like insect. Most people welcome a bit of warmer weather in the UK but the reality is that if we blindly continue with the current consumption is king economy, based on infinite growth, we can look forward to less acceptable changes in British flora and fauna. In my experience of the tropics its the snakes, large spiders and golf ball sized hornets that flip most people out.

One of the less obvious dimensions about the business of saving our own skins as the planet warms up is that a shed load of money is to be made in reshaping the existing wealth creation business model. The PSFK conference last Friday held a panel to discuss the topic with Karen Fraser from The Ethical Index chairing the discussion with John Grant (Greenormal), Diana Verde Nieto (Clown Fish) and Tamara Giltsoff (Ozolab). Not so long back I took some time out to study a bit about propaganda because it seemed obvious to me that there was no way that after the failure of Kyoto and the growth of China and India that the neoliberal capitalist model was going to rein in the excesses of marketing communications credo of sell more despite it 'getting hot in here' (so take off all your clothes). Actually I was pretty much floored by the release of the Stern Review Report on climate change which I had no expectation to see in my lifetime. If the human race can make a global business out of something like World Wrestling, Hello Magazine and Blue Tooth Headgear for anyone other than taxi drivers then I'm sure we can make a buck from shifting something not from A to B, but say from A to C. It really is as simple as that.

John Grant kicked off and although we've met in firstlife and talked bundles on his greenormal blog I only realised at the PSFK gig why he really does kick ass. John talks coherently in compelling joined up paragraphs and really could use an hour or two on his own to take us through a journey from sinners-in-denial to messianic converts. I think he's a national asset and at some point the British should collectively chip in to give him our spare carbon points because we need him out on the road and 'representing' for the U.K. around the globe since he practices what he preaches and only flies when only absolutely necessary. John opened with some breaking market research that aviation brands are the new dirty word. Can we anticipate a renaissance for the great British seaside holiday and the rise of the guest house again? Flying seemed to lose its sex appeal around about the time Pan Am were shot out of the sky in 1991, but its official now; only losers and drink drivers fly unnecessarily.

I urge you to buy John's about to be published book The Green Marketing Manifesto when it comes out, for all the juicy bits about how to do green marketing. He did talk about how the green (sustainable living) movement is in its early stages right now like digital was in 1995, and that there's a real opportunity for all marketing folk to get into this and start changing the senseless waste of that indulgent age 'The Consumer Society' and make good money out of it. Money and Green are not incommensurate, and one idea I liked was the movement to get children walking to school with a kagoul brand perhaps getting involved. However if you do check out one website to wet the whistle and that John has championed before, take a look at freecycle. Because sharing and recycling is the new Sexy black as I mentioned back here.

Tamara Giltsoff also chimed in with a similarly reasoned argument that a new sustainable business model is emerging and that its a front end change that we should be putting our marketing brain cells to, not short sharp shock. She also championed the need to put marketing and corporate responsibility (C.R.) together. We need to urgently be speaking to each other because doing good is actually something that sets products and services apart. Its not exactly rocket science is it? I did like the way that Tamara implied that SUV's were now approaching the social pariah status of something like a Chavmobile.

Diane Verde Nieto of Clownfish made a great observation for those in attendance, that modern communications professionals should be able to handle the schizophrenia of leading two agendas. One to sell our clients products and services and the other to build sustainability into the way they work. Again they are not incommensurate but it takes a twin track mind to handle the conflict in the transition stage. She also drew our attention to London's aim to be a sustainable city by 2020 which was something I wasn't aware of and will surely be a terrific motivator for business to reshape and retool. In addition Diane pointed out the Ariel low temperature wash cycle campaign(30 degrees) and that the internet is a heavy user of electricity impacting on the environment through huge data centers that are sprouting up around the world, as well as the costly running of computers and servers. Water, she alerted us, is going to be the next big challenge after carbon footprint responsibility takes hold. This makes complete sense for those who follow geopolitics around the globe and is a timely reminder for Sci-fi fans to reread Dune. Lastly Diane used a bleak euphemism for the business of carbon offset trading described as the equivalent for the environment of the morning after pill.


  1. Charles you are really sweet, I will add a national asset widget to my facebook page at the next available opportunity. More to the point I have some more open source style schemes in mind inspired by reading & staring out of the window on the aforementioned train journey, I will post on these soon.

  2. Thanks Henry. Delighted to see you bought a Prius and would love to know about it when we next meet. Good man.

    Thanks John. We're big fans of yours over here. Just keep thinking for the planet and we'll be extremely happy :)