Not business as usual: Seventh Generation stands with the Global Climate Strike
Eco-friendly household and personal care products company Seventh Generation believes no one can live a healthy life on a sick planet, and the climate crisis is the greatest threat to future generations.
In August 2019, the brand wanted to make an impactful – and untraditional – move to show support for the youth climate movement. It adopted the motto, “Not business as usual.” Then with Allison+Partners’ help, it donated a week of national TV broadcast advertising time to the movement, generating thanks and praise from youth activists and capturing media attention. And it timed the move with one of the most-anticipated moments for the climate movement – the Sept. 20 Global Climate Strike.
Earned media analysis of business support for the movement and related causes and first-party research conducted with NGO partners that work alongside national youth climate activists helped determine how Seventh Generation would showcase support. The research showed the movement needed to extend its message more broadly. What better way for Seventh Generation to do this than to give the gift of its own national advertising platform in the form of a week of national TV broadcast airtime.
Working with agency partners and key internal stakeholders, Allison+Partners and Seventh Generation’s PR and marketing team quickly moved the idea through approvals and secured the green light to make an impactful six-figure donation to 350.org, an international environmental organization and a key youth climate movement supporter. It connected 350.org with creative agency Futerra, which donated its time and production services to create a national TV spot that would run during the donated airtime – unbranded and focused completely on amplifying the movement’s messages.
Seventh Generation strategically made the airtime donation announcement just a month before the event get to ahead of other business announcements related to the strike. Then, its owned social and digital channels went “dark” on product messaging during that week to focus solely on amplifying the youth climate movement’s messages. The company also closed its Burlington, Vt., headquarters on Sept. 20, and more than 200 employees in 19 countries joined the strike and marched for radical change.
Between receiving the green light on Aug. 16 and the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, Allison+Partners quickly developed an earned media strategy, including early outreach, to secure a national media exclusive that would run before other brands got into the mix. PR played the lead role in generating awareness, with the goal of earned coverage that prioritized movement messages and inspired other companies to think about climate with a similar mindset.
We built detailed national lists and media pitches focused on the airtime donation news and called on other businesses to join Seventh Generation in support of the movement. We also pitched 90 reporters encompassing national business, news, climate and advertising and actively monitored for relevant news related to the movement to inform proactive pitching efforts.
Our team surpassed expectations, securing 37 placements for more than 266 million impressions. Results included a Fast Company exclusive and an Adweek feature. We also ensured the brand was represented in all key national media roundups of business’ participation in the strike, leading to coverage from the likes of CNN, CNBC.com, CBSNews.com and NPR.
Feedback and conversation around Seventh Generation’s action boosted its brand equity. It enjoyed positive tweets of support from a variety of individuals and organizations, including notable youth climate activist Xiye Bastida, Unilever Executive Vice President of Global Marketing and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Aline Santos, former Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Women’s Voices for the Earth and Fridays for Future.
Seventh Generation’s unconventional approach to corporate social responsibility helped amplify the Global Climate Strike, in which more than four million people worldwide took part in more than 2,500 events. The end result was conversation, momentum and support around a new generation that will continue its movement as Seventh Generation continues its mission to transform the world into a healthy, sustainable and equitable place for the next seven generations.