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Advertising, design and marketing experts talk sexy susty

Thinkshift | December 17, 2014

Why isn’t sustainability perceived as sexy?

It should be: sustainable products and services often are technically advanced, super smart and emotionally appealing. And the companies that make them are in the vanguard, modeling new ways of doing business.

But the landscape of sustainability marketing is littered with green leaves and a crunchy, good-for-the-planet ethos that doesn’t inspire most people to buy. That means companies are missing market opportunities and failing to make sustainability desirable to the mainstream.

We’re hoping to change all this. As a start, we gathered experts in marketing, advertising, product design and experience design for a much-needed conversation; the Strategy>Shift forum Talking Sexy Susty: Marketing Sustainability to the Mainstream is the result.

The panelists who generously contributed their diverse opinions and experiences are:

Gary Barker, CEO, Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions
Gary is a product designer whose brandable, sustainably produced hangers and product displays are changing the way brands large and small display, ship and market their merchandise. We met Gary when he and Carolyn participated on a panel about the being Certified B Corps, and liked him and his work so much we profiled him for the B Corp website.

Lucas Donat, CEO, Tiny Rebellion
Lucas caught our eye with the brilliant Food Porn Index he and his Santa Monica–based team created for Bolthouse Farms. It’s part of an entire campaign—still going strong—that uses fast-food marketing and advertising techniques to make eating fruits and veggies sexy for all ages. When he’s not helping purpose-driven brands change the world, Lucas is an avid organic farmer after our own tequila-loving hearts: his lime tree is the cocktail tree.

Nathan Shedroff, chair, experience design MBA, California College of the Arts
Nathan impressed us as one of the 2013 co-chairs of Compostmodern, a super-cool design and sustainability conference hosted by the San Francisco AIGA chapter every two years. Nathan not only wrote the book Design Is the Problem: The Future of Design Must Be Sustainable, he also took the time to get an MBA from Presidio Graduate School.

Sandra Stewart, principal, Thinkshift
Sandra is the chief instigator of Thinkshift’s mission to make sustainability sexy—probably because she is as passionate about sustainability as she is about fashion and shoes. Sandra has helped sustainability pioneers such as New Resource Bank and RSF Social Finance cement their leadership position, cleantech companies like Powerit Solutions expose the genius in their products, and advocacy organizations make the case for policies that accelerate the shift to a sustainable economy.

Our forum report is an edited transcript that shares their insights into why sustainability isn’t sexy, why it needs to be, how it can be—and what “sexy” means in the first place.

Check it out here. Please let us know what you think—your input can help shape our explorations and work in the coming year. We’re also tweeting about it @thinkshift using #SexySusty.

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