Time to Bring Down the Curtain on Green Theatre
“Sustainability is a topic that IBM’s really passionate about. Our view is that we now live in a world that’s becoming a system of systems and that is a world of multiplicity and diversity. Given that, we believe that for effective action there’s got to be collaboration across organizations, not just within one specific organization.”
At IBM we can get some mileage out of sustainability. The world is complicated. Really complicated. So stop looking at us and make other companies help too.
Let’s pick it apart a little more. IBM is passionate? Really? Companies are not passionate. People are passionate. But if that first sentence is bullshit then the second is the whole damn pasture. In fact, it’s so artful that I’m almost sad I didn’t write it. As an aside, folks, if your job is to come up with steaming piles like this, The Corporate Bullshit Generator is a great site to help you crank out the methane.
This bit of compost is just a tiny excerpt from the manure spreading panel of CEOs who discussed sustainability in Forbes a few years ago.
While many of these CEOs have headed off to other paddocks, the Green Theatre their corporations and thousands of others have created is thriving and seems to make more noise than usual around Earth Day each year. But a much more subtle version oozes out of marketing departments these days without so much as a care about whether or not it’s total BS. Are you an extra in your company’s Green Theatre production for this year? If you’re not sure, here is a quick test:
If any of this reminds you of you, then the Green Theatre wardrobe department is probably paging you.
Now we all know why it’s important to actually invest in the planet we insist on fertilizing from the C-suite, so I’m not going to lecture you on icecaps (good), whales (also good), greenhouse gas (bad), dioxin (real bad) and Earth Day (I don’t actually know what that is, but it made a heck of a mess in my town the other day).
I’m going to lecture you on why you need to get off the stage and find something real to talk about. And it’s called the P-Cube. Remember them? Here’s why your Green Theatre is not going to cut it much longer.
If you read the Green Theatre scripts from the likes of Campbell Soup, and Walmart, you will see that accountability for greenness is actually vested in the poor buggers in the procurement or purchasing department.
For B2B marketers, that should be good news since we’re pretty good at getting these folks to spend money. If you haven’t started seeing it already, I am going to predict that RFPs, RFQs and all the other Request For Things (RFTs) documents will soon have more than a simple “do you do bad things to the earth?” throw-away question. I think we’ll start seeing requests for actual data, real proof and third party validations for your environmental track record.
We’re going to need to demonstrate compliance, supply chain insights, environmental audits, adherence to standards and playing nicely with the authorities. This is where it’s a bit different than in B2C. Consumers, while they are getting a bit smarter about it, are still pretty easily convinced by a dolphin and a bunch or arrows on the label that what they are buying is sustainable and kind wheat grass.
The P-Cube, on the other hand, is soon going to have something more scientific than photos of pandas to evaluate our bullshit, and we had better get our act together ahead of the day sustainability becomes the ante on new business deals.
Even in the face of Corporate Overlords who find it more expedient to shift things to places where tap water catches fire and $20 buys you a Steward of the Earth Award, I am going to bet the P-Cube will hold us to some Earth-friendly metrics, if for no other reason than demographics.
Corporate Overlords, for the most part, are either Baby Boomers who are hoping the oil lasts longer than they do or Gen Xers who are hoarding birthday candles and gin because they know it won’t. The generation currently playing Candy Crush in the procurement department is, however, the one that actually seems to give a shit and also the lucky cohort stuck with cleaning it all up.