Getting the Green Message Right: A New Framework for Environmental Marketing

3966_image002New York, N.Y., January 26, 2010 –  As more consumers consider environmental features important in their purchasing decisions, businesses have a keen interest in communicating the “green” attributes of their products.  Getting the message right is far from easy.  To help marketers and advertisers avoid the mistakes of vague, non-specific or misleading environmental claims, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has produced a new global Framework for Responsible Environmental Marketing Communications.

Launched today at a seminar for marketing professionals and self-regulation experts in New York, the framework responds to a call from industry stakeholders for guidance on how to better engage in, and evaluate, environmental marketing communications to ensure consumer confidence in these claims is safeguarded.

ICC is the largest, most representative business organization in the world.  Its thousands of member companies in over 120 countries have interests spanning every sector of private enterprise.  The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), based in New York, serves as ICC’s American national committee and hosted today’s seminar.

“The new framework helps marketers and their agencies ensure the messages they develop hold up to the basic principles of truthful, honest and socially responsible communications,” said John Manfredi, chair of the ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising.  ”While the principles are simple, applying them amid the hype and fury of new claims and terms that are not universally understood, is more complicated.  This guide is an attempt to map that process for companies and provide a standard for self-regulators to evaluate when claims are questioned.”

ICC has been a major rule-setter for international advertising since the 1930s, when the first ICC code on advertising practice was issued.  Since then, it has extended the ICC self-regulatory framework on many occasions to assist companies in marketing their products responsibly.

Developed by the ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising, the framework includes a practical checklist aimed at the creators of marketing communications campaigns around environmental claims, as well as a chart that provides an easy reference to relevant provisions of the global advertising code and interpretations on current issues related to environmental marketing.

The launch seminar featured a presentation of the new framework, along with an interactive discussion based on examples that demonstrate how the framework tools can be applied to improve advertising and avoid misleading claims.  Participants from the United States, Europe, Mexico and China discussed regional differences in approaches and the importance of consumer perception in the determination of whether a claim is useful or misleading, as well as the impact that symbols, images and colors can have on that determination.

“Even a widely recognized symbol like the mobius loop (left), the three arrows that follow each other in a triangle, does not necessarily communicate something universally understood by consumers,” noted seminar moderator and expert Sheila Millar of Keller and Heckman.  “When a consumer sees this loop, what do they infer about the product?  That it has been recycled?  Is recyclable?  Or both?”

ICC’s Framework for Responsible Environmental Marketing Communication is a companion to the Consolidated ICC Code of Advertising and Marketing Communications, which sets forth general principles governing all marketing communications.  The framework offers more detailed interpretation of the environmental claims chapter of the general code.  As many national and regional codes are built on ICC’s codes, this interpretation can also be applied to national and regional marketing codes used by self-regulatory organizations to set best practices for business.

USCIB promotes international engagement and prudent regulation in support of open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility.  Its members include top U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of the economy, and with operations in every region of the world.  With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment.  More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contacts:

Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

Dawn Chardonnal, ICC Communications Dept.
+33 1 49.53.29.07 or dcl@iccwbo.org

ICC Framework on Environmental Marketing Claims

More on USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee

ICC website

Staff Contact:   Jonathan Huneke

VP, Communications and Public Affairs
Tel: 212.703.5043

Jonathan Huneke is responsible for USCIB’s strategic communications, including media relations, publications, online content and high-level public events. He also manages the work of USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee.
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