The Green Graveyard – A Requiem
Back in 2002 I saw US green marketeer Jacquelyn Ottman give a presentation at a conference in London entitled “The Green Graveyard” – the place where clever but ill-conceived green products and services go to die. It was one of those rare moments that really blows your mind on a subject – and The Green Graveyard was such a powerful metaphor for me that I have quoted it in both my books (fully attributed of course). Thousands of people have seen me wave an early model (not so-) compact fluorescent lamp around as I speak – that case study is straight out of The Green Graveyard (with permission).
So when Ottman’s latest book, The New Rules of Green Marketing, came out I ordered it right away and sat down to read with relish. One problem. No Green Graveyard. Not a whiff of it. I was going to review the book in depth here, but I can’t objectively – it’s like going to see Motorhead and them not playing The Ace of Spades – no matter how good the rest of the gig is, the omission is going to leave a deflated feeling. It’s a fine book, very accessible, nice case studies, good summaries, comprehensive, particularly suitable for someone new to green marketing, but I would like to have seen a bit more on how and why the case studies work. I’ll leave it at that.
But The Green Graveyard is/was an concept of genius – simple, powerful and memorable – and a stark warning to everyone and anyone trying to bring green products and services to market. The Graveyard is full of such products and services that have failed in their marketplace, usually because they assume that the customer will accept a compromise on price, performance, convenience, aesthetics or prestige in return for green credentials when only a tiny minority will. No-one wants an ugly light bulb in their living room – no matter how energy efficient it is – so to avoid the Graveyard, you must develop a bulb which is aesthetically pleasing as well as efficient.
I would love to have created such a metaphor – and I hope Ottman will resurrect it.