Sexing Up Sustainability
Sustainability story of the day must be Marks & Spencer’s launch of a carbon neutral bra, knickers and suspender belt set – certainly taking the hair shirt out of corporate social responsibility. Interestingly, the most popular news story on last month’s edition of The Low Carbon Agenda was that the WWF had signed up a top lingerie model as an ambassador. One of my favourite quotes is from Ashley Lodge of Harper Collins who said their staff engagement strategy is “more stilettos than sandals”. Has the sustainability world gone sex mad?
The oldest marketing maxim in the world is “sex sells” – and sustainability is no different. And why shouldn’t sustainability be sexy? The industry has a tendency to fear that “sexy” can mean “sexist” and that all communications have to be worthy and dull.
But when you’re trying to catch someone’s attention – the average joe, not a treehugger – ranting at them doesn’t work, being boring doesn’t work, being smug doesn’t work, and a pair of hands cupping a sapling certainly doesn’t work. You have to really grab them – and sex is one way of doing that. Marks & Spencer know that carbon neutral suspenders will gain more column inches in the mainstream media than carbon neutral socks. WWF know that a top lingerie model will get more attention from non-greens than, say, Jonathan Porritt (no offence, Jonathan). It works, so why not?
Can you put a bit more va-va-voom into your sustainability programme?