A Practical Guide to Great Green Marketing
(without the Greenwash)
In September 2009, at the inaugural meeting of the OgilvyEarth global advisory board,
our advisors were bullish on the prospects and potential of sustainability-oriented marketing.
Done well, they said, it could be world changing—transforming the way we look at the
world, catalyzing an appetite for positive change and offering consumers concrete ways to
take action. They shared the belief that it could become one of the major forces propelling
the transition to a sustainable economy, as well as a path to leadership for corporations
in a dynamic market already valued at well over $200 billion in the US alone.1
But they flagged a particularly stubborn blot on this otherwise promising
Greenwash is not a new concept. The term is believed to have emerged from the
Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and it entered the Concise Oxford Dictionary in 1999.
Along with the recent dramatic rise in green marketing has come an increase in the
popularity of the term and, according to the greenwash police, in the incidence of
infractions. One report found 98% of
all green claims made in 2009 guilty
of one or more of the “Seven Sins of
Greenwashing” and reported that 64%
of Americans no longer trust sustainabilityrelated
Advisor Ma Jun, of China, warns that
greenwash is a “key subject arousing big attention in [his] part of the world” as well. He told
us that local and multinational corporations have amassed 57,000 greenwash violations,
now on the public record books.
Greenwash, it seems, has reached epidemic proportions.
Download From Greenwash to Great
1 LOHAS. “Background,” 2006. Web.
2 TerraChoice. “The Seven Sins of Greenwashing,” 2009. Web.