When it comes to marketing your green business, it takes more than just an eco-friendly label to stand out in an increasingly competitive and growing niche. Yet there are leading companies who have created ways to do just that. Here is a ranking of green marketing innovators from the past decade, compiled by Jennifer Kaplan for the Green Marketing and Communications class she teaches at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Kaplan is a partner in green marketing firm Greenhance and the author ofGreening Your Small Business. As an entrepreneur in her own right, Kaplan also recently founded VineCrowd.com, a website designed to connect artisanal, independent wineries with consumers to buy, sell, discuss, compare and share.
1. Tide Coldwater Challenge
This landmark 2005 marketing campaign addressed the money saved by washing in cold water and the product's deep cleaning and whitening abilities, making green the ancillary benefit. The far-reaching campaign included national advertising, in-store programs, product sampling, a strong Internet presence, consumer promotions and strategic alliances.
2. Jamie Oliver
The outspoken English chef and advocate of healthy food is a brand in and unto himself. He uses "disruptive media and public visibility" to communicate and motivate, creating a new kind of "infotainment."
3. Diesel Clothing: Global Warming Ready
In print ads promoting its 2007 spring/summer collection, the Italian clothing company depicted landscapes transformed by environmental disaster. The campaign proved that green marketing and tongue-in-cheek humor--when done well--resonate with young audiences.
4. GE Ecomagination
A massive 2008 multimedia campaign for Ecomagination established GE's green position in a competitive marketplace where credibility and believability are paramount to success. The resulting creative was simple, beautiful and compelling and delivered the message in engaging ways.
5. HSBC: There's No Small Change
A highly successful 2008 print campaign elevated HSBC's environmental credentials and consolidated the bank's environmental leadership position--all without TV or radio.
6. TOMS Shoes: Project Holiday
For the month of December 2008, TOMS promoted its Project Holiday campaign to sell 30,000 pairs of shoes so it could give the same number of protective rubber shoes to kids in Ethiopia. The company exceeded its goal by 23 percent and raised unprecedented awareness for its cause--all without paid media.
7. Toyota Prius: Harmony
This 2009 multimedia campaign showed how the Prius delivers extra power, space, safety, advanced technology and superior gas mileage.
8. Timberland: Earthkeepers
This 2009 global campaign showcased the Earthkeepers collection of eco-friendly apparel and included TV, print and retail ads, as well as social media and a microsite that used 3D technology.
9. Method: Just Say No to Jugs
This cheeky 2010 campaign is typical of Method's marketing, mocking mainstream cleaning products as feeding a household's "jug" habit. The campaign relied only on print and online ads.
10. BMW Diesel: Ch-ch-changes
This 2011 campaign launched at Super Bowl XLV, communicated valuable information and a relevant message to the American audience about the environmental benefits of and changes in diesel technology.