Brands join forces to promote sustainability

Brands including Unilever, BT and M&S are joining forces on a project that aims to make sustainable living ‘the new normal’. 

Unilever Waterworks

The platform, dubbed Collectively, will be updated with stories, videos and blog posts on how to live more sustainably. Viewers will also be encouraged to submit their own ideas around themes such as “future foodies” and “the smartest city”.

The project came about at the World Economic Forum as brands discussed how to “inspire and accelerate” sustainable living. Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO, told Marketing Week that while many companies are doing a lot of work on the supply side in terms of deforestation and sustainable farming, that won’t scale unless consumers demand more sustainable products.

The aim, he said, is to get people talking about the issues surrounding sustainability and solutions to them. The project will initially focus on getting consumers, in particular millennials aged between 18 and 30, to engage with the content by viewing and sharing it, before asking them to change their own behaviour or come up with sustainable living ideas.

Weed added: “This is lots of different companies coming together to engage young people across the world at scale to create positive engagement on a better future. At the very beginning we want to create awareness but that alone will be a failure. It will be a positive impact but below our ambition. We are looking for action – people doing things, encouraging others to do things and setting up their own initiatives.

Weed said the idea is not to be “doom and gloom” about the environment but to highlight innovation, inspiration and “how things can be done better”.

The site, which BT chief sustainability officer Neil Dunne said would ensure the content is “sticky and relevant” to younger consumers. The brands have also enlisted the help of as they look to build a global movement aimed at getting people involved in living sustainably.

Currently 29 brands have signed up, but the group is looking to bring more on board. However, they will have to meet strict criteria on their own sustainability efforts.

“We want brands that are all pulling in the same direction. These must be purposeful brands and organisations who believe in their own power to mobilise millennials for good around the world and that have proved themselves by getting their houses in order. We are very deliberately looking for purposeful brands and purposeful marketers,” said Dunne.

The project will initially launch in the US and UK but there are plans to roll it out globally, into markets such as India, China and Latin America. The launch will be accompanied by a marketing push from the brands involved to raise the profile of the project across their own websites, as well as on social media.

“This is about more voices, more engagement and bigger impact. BT could achieve all its sustainability goals, Unilever could, and that would get us nowhere. Collectively we can work together to make a huge impact,” said Weed.

The Collectively platform was developed in partnership with Vice Media’s creative shop Virtue Worldwide.