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THE BIG

BRAND REPORT
2015
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HOW 175 ITY USING FACEBOOK
SUSTAINABIL

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CAN SUSTAINABILITY SELL?

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CAN SUSTAINABILITY SELL?


Thats the question major brands have been wrestling
with for the best part of a decade. The answer theyve
always concluded was yes, but only to about one fifth
of the buying public those aspirational do-gooders
who, surveys tell us, actively buy green products and
are willing to pay a premium for them.

sustainable and better performing than in the past they


communicate these achievements only through their
exceedingly dull corporate communication channels.
Sustainability, so many companies still believe, is a
discussion just for specialist stakeholders rather than
the wider buying public.

For the rest of mainstream main street paying higher


prices for a clean conscience is a non-starter. Shoppers
will buy on price and theyll buy on performance and
reliability. Theyre swayed by celebrity endorsements
and some of them want to be associated with stuff
thats cool. But being sustainable? Not a chance.

But isnt the price we pay for products a question of


sustainability? Consider the costs to grow the crops
and raise the livestock to supply the food we buy. How
can the farmers we depend on make a living when the
prices in the supermarkets are so cheap? Then there is
the reliance on ingredients like corn sugar and salt to
flavor-stack low cost food. Are these foods sustaining
us or making us ill? The same core questions can be
asked of the detergents and soap we use, the clothes
we buy, the cars we drive and the services we depend
on to run our modern life.

This has been a prevailing view within the world of


brand advertising and marketing for a long while. So,
even as companies increasingly invest in more sustainable supply chains, improve energy efficiency, do better
by their workers and make products and that are more

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BRANDS, FOR BETTER OR WORSE, ARE HEAVILY


INVESTED IN FACEBOOK AS A MARKETING PLATFORM
BUT ALL TOO OFTEN THEY ARE TRYING TO TALK
AT FACEBOOK MEMBERS RATHER TALK WITH THEM.
Increasingly consumers are asking these profound
sustainability questions, and they are starting to make
purchasing decisions around the way products affect
their health and lives and the way brands conduct themselves. While its true that most consumers wont pay
more for green products, they also dont want to buy
from companies that could be doing them, their family
and their community (including the environment) harm.
Their actions we call it soft sustainability already are
having an impact. They are prompting fast food companies to change their menus. They are forcing food
producers to take a stand on genetically modified crops
and retailers to shift to organic supply chains. They are
pushing household and personal goods manufacturers to use non-toxic components in cleaning products
and they are holding apparel makers to account over
working conditions in their factories and those of their
suppliers. All of these issues sit at the heart of sustainability in business and influence peoples buying deci-

sions. Its just when real people talk about them they
dont use the language of corporate sustainability.
How brands react to this increasingly well-informed and
opinionated consumer will likely have a big impact on
their future reputation, credibility and sales. Thats why,
in our opinion, companies need to embrace sustainability at a brand level rather than making it a corporate
conversation.
So, in this second annual Big Brand Report, we pick up
from last years research and take a fresh look at the
disconnect between what 15 major consumer goods
companies say about sustainability from a corporate
point of view and how they talk to consumers through
175 of their biggest brands.
The lens weve chosen to look at the brand/consumer
conversation through is Facebook arguably the biggest global platform for brands to reach consumers.

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CAN SUSTAINABILITY SELL?

Brands, for better or worse, are heavily invested in


Facebook as a marketing platform but all too often
they are trying to talk at Facebook members rather talk
with them.
This is a big mistake on the part of the brands because
its clear from spending any time on Facebook that people are asking serious sustainability questions about
nearly every major brand. Many of the questions (and
criticisms) posted as digital graffiti on brands Facebook
pages admittedly are first posed by dedicated activists.
More often than not, however, the issues they raise
strike a chord with other commenters on the network.
How much of the consumer opinion that is shared on
brands Facebook pages gets fed back into corporate
sustainability or brand marketing strategy? Its hard
to say but one thing is clear: if sustainability advocates within the worlds biggest companies need any
more evidence that real people care about the issues

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they are implementing within their organisations then


Facebook is a good starting point.
Some brands are communicating effectively about
consumer sustainability issues of course. In this report,
we look at the types of issues brands do talk about
and we consider 10 case studies of smart sustainability
storytelling and communication.
Hopefully, by highlighting where the conversational
gaps currently exist and how companies are doing a
good job, this report can demonstrate the mutual
opportunity for both sustainability and marketing departments to work together.
Matthew Yeomans
December 2015

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For this years report we studied the Facebook pages of


175 brands owned by 15 of the worlds biggest consumer goods companies. The companies are:

PEPSICO
PROCTER & GAMBLE
GENERAL MILLS
NESTL
MONDELEZ
MARS
COCA COLA
JOHNSON & JOHNSON

UNILEVER
MCDONALDS
ABF
DANONE
DIAGEO
KIMBERLY-CLARK
ABINBEV

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WHO USES FACEBOOK TO


TALK SUSTAINABILITY?

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POTENTIAL AUDIENCE VS
ACTUAL SUSTAINABILITY REACH

HOW 175 MAJOR BRANDS USE FB TO TALK SUSTAINABILITY

66 USE FB

ABOUT

Taken all together, those 175 brands boast a total of


757.84 million likes or fans a pretty impressive audience by anyones estimation. In 2015 66 (38 percent)
of those 175 brands with an audience of nearly 376
million talked to their Facebook community about
sustainability issues (though often in only the most cursory fashion).
FACEBOOK FOLLOWING IN MILLIONS

109 DON'T USE FB

DON'T USE FB

USE FB

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THE DOMINANT BRANDS

Missing from the list of brands not afraid to talk sustainability on Facebook however is Coca-Cola. Back in
2014 it communicated issues like recycling and exercise
through Facebook. This year it has retreated into generic platitudes around Happiness missing an opportunity to tell 93 million fans about sustainability initiatives it
discusses on its website.

TOP 4 BRANDS

Of those 66 brands four have a major Facebook presence. McDonalds in the US hasnt been afraid to talk
about sustainable sourcing of beef to its 59 million
Facebook fans. Pepsis Liter of Light campaign this
year was communicated to 33.7 million Facebook fans.
Unilevers Dove has made raising young girls selfesteem a core brand proposition to its 24.5 million fans.
And Kit Kat talks about sustainable cocoa sourcing to
its 24 million fans.

MCDONALDS

DOVE

PEPSI

KIT KAT

*numbers in millions

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THE SUSTAINABILITY TOPICS


BEING DISCUSSED
In general brands dont discuss sustainability with any
great regularity. However as the chart below shows,
when they do communicate theyre not afraid to tackle
a whole range of issues.

SUSTAINABILITY TOPICS

LGBT PRIDE

DISASTER RELIEF

CHARITABLE CAUSES

PETS WELFARE

CLIMATE CHANGE

SAVING ENERGY

WASTE & RECYCLING

ORGANIC FOOD

HEALTHY EATING

EMBRACING ENVIRONMENT

SOCIAL IMPACT/COMMUNITY

RESPONSIBLE DRINKING

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

FEMALE SELF ESTEEM

In a more focused way brands like Always and Dove


and Aveeno have made issues like self-esteem a core
element of their brand marketing. Interestingly the third
most communicated sustainability in this years study
was sustainable sourcing not exactly a cuddly type of
topic for Facebook brand pages. But, mainly thanks to
the Mars Inc. and Unilever brands, the public is being
informed about sustainable tea, coffee and cocoa
initiatives. Most of the drinks brands offer lip service to
responsible drinking (though you get the feeling
its more of a hygiene approach than an authentic
attempt at reshaping drinking binge attitudes). More
political issues like climate change and clean energy are
tougher topics for brands at present. Not so Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues though. Increasingly mainstream US brands have taken a stand in
favor of equal gender rights.

SUSTAINABLE SOURCING

Its no great surprise that the area where brands feel


most comfortable taking ownership of is Health and
Wellness. Charity and support for foundations is another easy win for brands.

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WHAT BRANDS WOULD LIKE


TO TALK ABOUT ON FACEBOOK
For the most part consumer brands like to keep it
light and happy. The daily posts and updates from the
majority of the brands we looked at were inane, safe
and saccharinely artificial in their bonhomie.
Brands tend to treat Facebook fans as a happy but
lobotomised mass that can be enthused with pretty
photos and upbeat platitudes. It must work because
nearly all the brands take the same approach but the
responses they receive dont always sync with the
happy-land message the brands want to promote.

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WHAT DO REAL PEOPLE TALK TO


BRANDS ABOUT ON FACEBOOK?
When Facebook fans do respond to these brand posts
they are quite often off-message, choosing instead
to take the brand to task for bad customer service,
shoddy product quality or questionable ethical and sustainability behavior.

solid answers that would reassure the vast majority of


fans who are bystanders to the activists agenda. All
too often though the brand pages respond with generic please contact our customer service messages, if
they reply at all.

Certainly a lot of the ethical and sustainability criticism


is initiated by NGOs and other activists as the images
show. But, nevertheless, the discourse is taking
place in front of any consumer who follows a brand and
so might be potentially swayed by the protests and
arguments.

Nearly a decade after the first brands got involved on


Facebook many, it seems, are still learning that social
media is a two-way conversation, not a platform for
pushing marketing messages. Here is a snapshot of the
issues people are taking the brands to task about on
Facebook pages.

In some ways Facebook brand pages represent a war


of words over the character of the brand. Youd think
then that brands would try doubly hard to counter
reputation attacks and criticism with hard facts and

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CHEERIOS GLUTEN FREE AND GMO

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NESPRESSO RECYCLING ISSUES

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PEDIGREE FIBRES IN DOG FOOD

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TROPICANA TOO MUCH SUGAR

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PEPSI PALM OIL DEFORESTATION

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COCA-COLA FIFA AND SUGAR

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HOW BRANDS DO SUCCEED


ON FACEBOOK
A few major brands are bold enough to tackle serious
sustainability issues through Facebook and in a manner that captures peoples attention. Here are three
examples of brands embracing the Facebook aesthetic
to convey sustainability messages.

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10 OF THE BEST
Its a simple maxim that companies that are doing good
sustainability work have a good story to tell. Here weve
chosen 10 case studies showing brands that practice
what they preach and then communicate effectively through social media. These case studies arent
specifically created for Facebook but each brand uses
elements of the larger campaign to communicate on
the social network.

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1 DORITOS RAINBOWS
Multi-colored potato chips may not sound the most appealing
idea, but Doritos Rainbows proved so popular they sold out in a
week. The appeal probably wasnt the product itself, but more
the message, and the support each purchase provided.
Doritos unveiled its limited edition multi-colored chips, in its
popular Cool Ranch flavor, in support of the anti-homophobia
project, It Gets Better.
The brightly colored chips came in the colors of the Pride flag
(red, orange, green, blue and purple), and each sale for an
online payment of $10 or more - represented a donation to the
project which supports young members of the LGBT community
against bullying. The campaign raised $100,000 for It Gets Better.
The launch coincided with the brand's first sponsorship of Dallas
Pride, and gained a huge amount of discussion on social media.
Reaction was mainly positive, although Republican candidate
for the presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee, condemned
Doritos parent company Frito-Lay for the campaign, and urged
Christians to boycott its products.

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2 PEPSI CHALLENGE LITER OF LIGHT


Liter of Light is the latest campaign within the 2015 Pepsi
Challenge program a series of challenges promoted by the
likes of sprinter, Usain Bolt, tennis legend, Serena Williams,
creative director, Nicola Formichetti, as well as other personalities from sport and media that encourage Pepsi drinkers to think
differently, dream bigger, and have fun.
Liter of Light invites people to use the #PepsiChallenge hashtag
on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Every time they
do, Pepsi donates $1 to the Liter of Light charitable organization
up to a total of $1 million. The campaign has been supported by
TV and YouTube ads featuring Bolt and Williams.
The Liter of Light charity brings eco-friendly solar lighting to
communities that would not normally be able to afford conventional solar technology. With a used Pepsi bottle, water, chlorine,
some parts available from a hardware store, and basic soldering
skills, Liter of Light is giving people domestic lighting for the first
time in some of the worlds most impoverished communities.
The campaign charts its progress through its Liter of Light map,
which shines brighter as the hashtag is used more. But dont
waste too much energy studying the map and pondering why
some cities are glowing much brighter than others, and why
there are populated areas with surprisingly little or no apparent
activity: a disclaimer explains the map doesnt show specific
locations or counts.

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3 ALWAYS LIKE A GIRL


Most girls in the United States 72% of them according to one
study feel that society limits them, especially during puberty,
when their confidence is already low.
In this campaign, Always is striving to keep girls confidence high
during puberty and beyond. It encourages them to defy the limitations imposed on them that they are not strong or brave or
able to achieve their goals. The idea is to turn the description like
a girl from an insult to a compliment, and the campaign provides
inspiring examples, such as the female quarterback, who indeed
throws like a girl amazingly well!
The campaigns videos have proved popular to share one has 59
million views since 2014, another 37 million since the summer of
2015; and the associated social media channels are popular too
470,000 likes on Facebook and 23,000 followers on Twitter.

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4 GATORADE WIN FROM WITHIN


Gatorades Win From Within campaign began life as a showcase
for the stories of sports professionals aspirational role models
for the brands target market of young athletes. But research
showed those teens werent responding to the campaign, so it
took a change of direction, and focused instead on stories from
its audience teen athletes themselves.
In particular, the campaign used YouTube videos to tell the
stories of teens who embody what it means to Win From Within
those who defied the odds to achieve sporting success. They
have included a softball catcher born with one hand, a wrestler
with cerebral palsy, and others overcoming injury and adversity to succeed in basketball, boxing, and gymnastics. These are
truly inspiring, sometimes emotional, stories, which are skillfully
told and which have resonated with their target audience. The
videos have gained an average of more than a million views in
little more than a year, coupled with significant social media discussion around the campaign.

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5 REI OPT OUTSIDE


We have seen plenty of campaigns encouraging people to get
outdoors, but rarely if ever do they go as far as REIs Opt
Outside.
Recreational Equipment Inc, to give it its full name, announced
it would be encouraging its employees to get outdoors on Black
Friday 2015 by closing all 143 stores and paying them to explore
the great outdoors.
Closing on the busiest shopping day of the year may seem
foolish, but REI is looking at a bigger picture. As a cooperative
the biggest consumer cooperative in the US it is all about
getting people to enjoy outdoor adventure. When better than
the day when commercially-driven retailers are pushing people
into the very different environment of shopping malls?
The campaign wasnt just for staff, of course. REI wants others
to get out too. The Opt Outside microsite invites visitors to join
in by using the #OptOutside hashtag, and share their images. In
the end, more than 1.4 million people took the online pledge to
spend the day outside.

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6 CLOROX STOP THE SPREAD


Going viral takes on a new meaning (well old actually), when
the topic is the flu. Each winter the influenza virus spreads
misery around the US and other parts of the world so its no
surprise that when people get flu symptoms, they tend to share
their suffering on social media and that means, with smart
monitoring, its possible to see when and where flu is striking.
Clorox Cold and Flu Pulse is based on a research study conducted by Jonah Berger, author Contagious: Why Things Catch On
and Ketchum public relations. The study found that online flu
conversations tend to spike about a week earlier than the cases
confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The project uses technology from Bottlenose Stream Intelligence
and Brandwatch to take the nations temperature by looking for
the words and hashtags that define a trend and measure conversation volume.
The dedicated microsite provides an overview of the nations
health, highlights the current flu hotspots (unsurprisingly these
tend to be the big metro areas), and displays live stats about conversation trends. It also provides simple preventative tips, linked
to the hashtag #StopTheSpread. It also provides links to Clorox
products, of course.

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7 KENCO COFFEE VS GANGS


San Pedro Sula is reputedly the most dangerous city in the world.
For many young Hondurans there and across the country, gangs
are a way of life often seen as the only way to survive in a society that offers little prospects of making a living legitimately.
Kenco vs Gangs is a social responsibility initiative that offered
a group of vulnerable young people an alternate path by training them to start their own business. Most chose to become
coffee farmers (as you might expect) but others wanted to be fish
farmers, beauticians and bakers. The support from Kenco included classroom tuition in a business school, established by the
company in an old hotel, as well as hands-on experience.
A microsite uses text, images and video to tell the stories of the
some of the individuals involved, and the #CoffeeVsGangs hashtag has continued to be used on Twitter. The project was also
promoted through TV and online adverts and a native advertising
campaign in the Daily Telegraph and other publications.
Kenco drinkers are already supporting the project by buying the
brand, but there is also the chance to do more by redeeming
Kenco Club reward points to provide further help.

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8 PURINA CAT CHOW BUILD BETTER LIVES


Thousands of cats are housed in shelters across the US,
while they await adoption. To mark Adopt a Shelter Cat month
in June 2015, Purina brand, Cat Chow, looked to encourage
more adoptions through a nationwide social media campaign
called Building Better Lives.
Each year, approximately 3.4 million U.S. cats are taken in by animal shelters but only half of those cats are adopted. To mobilise
cat lovers Cat Chow encouraged anyone who adopted a cat in
June to share their story on Twitter or Instagram with a photo
or video and use the hashtag #MyRescueStory. For every story
posted, Cat Chow pledged to donate $30 for a cat adoption at
one of 50 cat shelters across the US. Their goal was to help fund
2,500 new cat adoptions during the month..
In addition, Cat Chow donated $25,000 to enable a team of
volunteers to make much-needed improvements at a shelter
that the brand has long partnered with.

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9 BEN & JERRYS CLIMATE MOVEMENT


Melting ice cream provides a simple, yet dramatic, metaphor for
climate change in the video for this campaign. A two-degree
Celsius rise in temperature may not sound much, but as the
video shows, it makes Ben & Jerrys ice cream a mess, and
would make even more of a mess of our planet. So, The Climate
Movement aims to get customers involved to pressure politicians into taking remedial action before its too late.
While most sustainability campaigns encourage individual action,
this is focused on getting things done at an international level by
calling on leaders of the developed nations and the UN to tackle
climate change at the upcoming summit in Paris. Specifically, it
calls for progress towards 100% clean energy by 2050.
The campaign also enables Ben & Jerrys to highlight its
own longstanding commitment to reducing its environmental
impact, including a carbon offsets program and global warming
advocacy.

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10 HELLMANNS SQUEEZE MORE OUT


The US loves mayonnaise, but much of its mayo is missing!
Thats the dramatic intro to the campaign video for Squeeze
More Out. It tells us that more than 1,000 lb of Hellmanns alone
was lost, trapped in the bottom of squeeze bottles.
The solution? A redesigned squeeze bottle that ensures mayo
doesnt stick to the sides cutting waste from as much as 13%
down to just 3%.
Hellmanns first introduced the new bottle in markets around the
world, including the US, UK, Canada, Portugal, the Netherlands, and
Brazil. In the UK alone, the new bottle, known as the Easy-Out,
saw sales rise more than 9.2% in a year, with market share also
increasing.
The campaign focuses, in a humorous way, on the waste of a
favorite product, and the marketers point to new technology
boosting sales. It is interesting to note that the sustainability
issues around waste are not part of the campaign.

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BECOME A MEMBER
OF SUSTAINLY

Becoming a member of Sustainly opens up a wealth of information that will help you with sustainability communication and
innovation. Our members have access to Sustainlys Intelligence
Engine database of over 1000 case studies as well as all our
Special Reports and Trend Briefings. All the information youll
need to communicate sustainability.
RESEARCH SMARTLY AND EFFICIENTLY
The Intelligence Engine is an interactive, smart database of more
than 1000 global case studies to provide you with marketing and
communication inspiration.
The Intelligence Engine guides you through the Issues, Risk,
Innovation and Storytelling of sustainability. Weve done the research that will help you and your clients communicate authentically
and creatively.
CREATE YOUR OWN PRESENTATIONS
When youve finished using the Intelligence Engine, export our
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ABOUT SUSTAINLY

Sustainly is a knowledge platform and advisory


service that provides a bridge between the world
of sustainability, marketing and communications.

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We draw on over 1000 original case studies


covering the issues, innovation, reputational risk
and storytelling associated with sustainability
communication.
We work with brands and agencies to create
intelligent planning and research that ensures
sustainability issues are communicated
effectively, transparently and creatively.
To hear more about Sustainly, contact:
Matthew Yeomans Director
+44 (0)7949 830256
matthew@sustainly.com
mateoy

Credits
Lead writer: Matthew Yeomans
Writer: Andrew Weltch
Analysis: Jowa Coffey
Graphic Design: Sonia Malpeso

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