Selfishness not altruism drives sustainability, say marketing chiefs

Caroline Taylor: IBM vice president of marketing and communications
Caroline Taylor: IBM vice president of marketing and communications

Selfishness rather than altruism is the best way to drive a sustainable agenda, according to a panel comprising marketing chiefs from British Gas, P&G and IBM.

During an IBM summit held in collaboration with The Marketing Society and sustainability charity Start, the IBM vice president of marketing and communications Caroline Taylor said: "We don’t believe altruism can drive sustainability".

Instead the changes must be driven by personal needs, a notion backed up by British Gas marketing director Will Orr when explaining why the utility giant is helping customers reduce their energy consumption.

Orr said: "If we don't do that [help people reduce their energy usage] our competitors will. People's bills are going up and if we help them to keep them down people are likely to stay with British Gas.

"We are not helping customers use less energy out of good heartedness."

Orr also pointed out that there are business opportunities in sustainability for energy companies through initiatives including setting up solar panels.

Simon Evans, Thames Water press office manager, believes in "cutting out the corporate bollocks", reducing corporate language and boosting trust, to persuade the public to get on board corporations' sustainability agendas.

He said: "We rely on natural environment for our core business. We polluted a river in South London and killed a lot of wildlife, it's now our job to put it right. Every now and again we do cock up, we are not proud of that but it's a rarity."

Tim Smit, the CEO and co-founder of The Eden Project, argues corporations putting their weight behind sustainability programmes could give the economy a much-needed kick-start.

Smit believes companies could offer employment opportunities with sustainability projects as "there's an enormous amount of unused capital that is lying in a wasteland".

He adds that corporations should pool their resources via the Start charity because there is overlap in their marketing communications, including sustainable initiatives in schools.

He said: "The rubbish that is produced is bringing teachers to their knees with all the sustainability pamphlets being produced by marketing teams."

P&G corporate marketing director and head of marketing Roisin Donnelly believes attitudes towards the environment have now turned a corner within major corporations.

Donnelly said: "If we had this conference 10-years ago we would have been a weirdo group of eco warriors."

Follow Matthew Chapman at @mattchapmanuk


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers