The recent Green Living show provided a good illustration of the challenge that big businesses and consumer brands face in establishing an authentic connection with their stakeholders.
The show was filled with small businesses that have made a commitment to social responsibility a core part of their value proposition. In this context, I found the displays by Ford, General Motors, Loblaw, and Wal-Mart to be conspicuous for a few reasons: their size, the predictability of their messages, and, most interestingly, the absence of people. The booths of small eco-friendly stores were teeming with people, while the vast Loblaw display seemed rather lonely.
Its clear that this is territory thats quite foreign to major corporations. Although they much more responsible than in the past, getting this message across in a convincing way remains elusive. Whats a poor public company to do? (I couldnt resist throwing in one of the most overused clichs I’ve seen in a while).
For one thing, I wonder who has enough courage to completely remove their products from the equation. Try re-imagining a Ford display as a showcase for responsible transportation. How about a Loblaw display all about sustainable agriculture?
Food for thought.