Matthew Miller
Sep 18, 2017

One of these two brands touting sustainability actually seems sincere

New Zealand's Ecostore hits the right green note, while Nespresso plays dumb about a tempest in a coffee capsule.

A purpose is a tricky thing for a brand to have.

The other day, our pal Ad Nut wrote about a brand that would probably be best leaving well enough alone (see "Hot Wheels shows that not every brand needs a higher purpose"). Today, I've seen two examples of brands trying to show concern for the environment—one succesful and the other not so much.

The video above was made by DDB Group New Zealand for Ecostore, an Auckland-based brand that sells eco-conscious products for hair, body, baby and home cleaning. In the clip, directed by Dylan Pharazyn of The Sweet Shop, a group of adults and a group of kids are asked to describe the future, and artists interpret the results.

The murals illustrating the views of the two age groups couldn't be more different, nor could the contrast between the adults' pessimism and the children's imaginative optimism be more painful to confront. As much as I tend to cringe at the creaky old "experiment" formula at this point, in this case it works, as it forces grown-ups to confront their own apathy. Have we really given up all hope?

The message also fits naturally with the brand's actions; Ecostore makes every product with an eye on human health and the future of the planet. 

Now, let's contrast the above with the following TVC that's leading a new global campaign for Nespresso (through J Walter Thompson):

No one could be against the idea of a giant FMCG company (Nespresso is a unit of Nestlé Group) getting its raw materials from sustainable sources or supporting indigenous communities. As Campaign UK's Simon Gwynn reported, the overall campaign includes several online films, such as this one, that go deeper into how the company's efforts are helping people and the environment.

That's all great. However, the campaign ignores the enormous pachyderm in the parlor—the one thing that anyone with even a shred of environmental consciousness would mention right away if you uttered the word 'Nespresso' in their presence: The capsules! Every cup made with a Nespresso machine (like other coffeemakers of the same ilk) adds a plastic cup to the waste stream. And because the brand's razors-and-blades, printers-and-ink business model is to sell billions of the capsules, one could argue that its product is inherently hostile to the environment.

Does this new global campaign mention this? It does not, even though the company is aware of the issue. In the Campaign UK article linked above, the company's CMO says that while only 24 percent of capsules are recycled at present, the brand "aspiration" is for this to reach 100 percent. 

That's an admirable "aspiration". But if you're really serious about it, why not make it, you know, a "goal"? Heck, you could even make a "pledge" to work toward 100 percent recycling, and make that the focus of your global communication strategy. Because otherwise, the only purpose I can detect in this campaign is a cynical attempt to distract people from a mountain of unrecycled plastic cups. And even if that's not the case—even if the brand's intentions are wholly honourable—pretending such a big issue doesn't exist creates an impression of duplicity.

Wouldn't it be better to address the elephant head-on? After all, as George Clooney puts it in his dulcet tones at the end of your ad, "We are the choices we make, aren't we?"

Matthew Miller is Campaign Asia-Pacific's online editor.

CREDITS (Ecostore)

CEO: Pablo Kraus
Director of Marketing: Jemma Whiten
Head of Digital: Michael Marcinkowski
Australian Marketing Manager: Sophie Digby
DDB New Zealand:
Chief Creative Officer: Damon Stapleton
Executive Creative Director: Shane Bradnick
Creative Director: Rory McKechnie & Nicole Sykes
Art Director: Jake O’Driscoll
Copywriter: Sylvia Humphries
Lead Business Partner: Nikki McKelvie
Senior Business Director: Carly Pratt
Business Coordinator: Frankie Everard
Planning Director: Rupert Price
Planner: Annika Fyfe
Head of TVP: Judy Thompson
Agency Producer: Rosie Grayson
The Sweet Shop:
Managing Director: Fiona King
Executive Producer: Ben Dailey
Director: Dylan Pharazyn
DOP: Adam Luxton
Post Production: Stuart Bedford
Department of Post:
Editor: Luke Haigh
Soundtrack/composer/Music: Composed – Max Scott
Business Director: Jennifer Hilliar

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