Brand-Led Coalition Targets Millennials on Sustainability and Climate Change

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The tide is shifting in favor of our planet as a coalition of some of the world’s leading global brands overcome market rivalry to form a coalition to engage young people on climate change issues.

Partners in Collectively, the new content- and action-driven digital platform, include Audi, BT Group, C&A Foundation, Carlsberg, Diageo, Facebook, General Mills, Google, Havas, IPG, Johnson & Johnson, Kingfisher, Lenovo, Marks & Spencer, McDonald’s, Medialink, Microsoft, Nestlé, Nike, Omnicom, PepsiCo, Philips, SABMiller, Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Twitter, Unilever and WPP.

The pitch: “Collectively is where the power of positivity and collaboration make sustainability the new norm. Watch as we follow several young people across the globe that took a stand against the status quo to help build a better world around them. From emissions-cutting inventions to socially responsible travel, hear their inspirational ideas and let us know what you think. Join us at http://collectively.org, comment, contribute and make this movement grow.”

The target audience is millennials, aged 18-30, tomorrow’s rising powerbrokers who are inheriting a crippled planet. And as social media is their home away from home, the coalition is enlisting Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to focus on “passion points” for that cohort. It’s all well and good—but will millennials listen, let alone take action?[more]

“Every single day, the most creative minds in the world are thinking, designing, testing, building and launching awe-inspiring new solutions to help us thrive,” said the site. “Collectively will connect millennials to the innovations that are shaping the future, making it easy for them to act, buy, invest and promote the ideas that they believe in. To be part of the solution.”

Millennials are increasingly sceptical about the motives of big business and big brands, the claims of “green” brands and the fossil fuel juggernaut on policy-making—and Collectively is targeting that thinking. Putting its moxie where it counts, the coalition is a nonprofit venture and will not carry corporate branding as it launches a pilot phase in the US and the UK, setting its sights on India, China and Brazil by the end of the year. 

Eschewing traditional media partnerships, Collectively is partnering with VICE Media, Purpose, and sustainability NGO Forum For the Future

“Maybe mother nature has invented a solution by creating the internet so that we can create movements at scale,” commented Keith Weed, CMO and global head of sustainability at Unilever, to the Guardian. “As individuals we are powerless, but collectively we are powerful. People are moving away from thinking about my world, my family and my next door neighbour to our world.” 

BT’s chief sustainability officer Niall Dunne, noting the recent People’s Climate March and the Rockefeller Foundation’s divestment of fossil fuels from its portfolio announced at the recent Clinton Global Initiative, added that, “This platform is the next beachhead for the sustainability movement and should be looking to engage hundreds of millions of people and change conspicuous consumption to mindful consumption.”

Walmart, now championing all things sustainable, this week announced at its Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting a commitment to create a more sustainable food system around four pillars: improving the affordability of food for customers and the environment, increasing access to food, making healthier eating easier, and improving the safety and transparency of the food chain. 

“The future of food is absolutely critical for both our society and for our business, which means we have a huge opportunity to make a difference here,” stated Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. “Grocery is a very personal category—it’s about what you feed your kids and how you take care of yourself. It’s about your health and wellbeing. And it all comes down to trust. Customers have to trust us on food. When we focus on food, we are doing right by our customers, our communities, and our planet.” 

But it’s getting harder to trust these days, as evidenced by a recent Consumer Reports study that found a majority of US packaged foods labeled as “natural” actually contain a substantial amount of GMO ingredients.

As Reuters reports, a survey of more than 80 different processed foods found that while “foods labeled as “non-GMO,” or “organic” were free of genetically modified corn and soy, virtually all of the foods labeled as “natural” or not labeled with any claim related to GMO content contained substantial amounts of GMO ingredients.”

GMOs were found in cereals, chips and infant formula. The Grocery Manufacturers Association is lobbying the federal government to define “natural” on food packaging that includes GMOs.

One thing that is clear, the only solutions for our planet will be orchestrated collectively, and a global coalition is a good start—if millennials can overcome their mistrust and get inspired to take action, too.

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