Seventh Generation Demystifies Cleaning Products

Responding to consumers’ need to help demystify ingredients in the cleaning products they buy, Seventh Generation has launched a mobile application that allows people to look up the definitions of common household cleaning chemicals even as they shop.

The application is available for download to Web-enabled cell phones (as well as a widget application) at It is part of a larger campaign themed “Show the World What’s Inside” that includes print breaking in such publications as Cookie, Domino and Self. This is the first campaign for Seventh Generation from 180LA, Los Angeles. Spend for the effort, which targets young moms, was not disclosed.

“One of the reasons we chose digital to be the center point of the campaign is because digital is great at doing a lot of things that some of the more traditional mediums aren’t,” said William Gelner, executive creative director at 180LA. “Young moms watch TV and read magazines, but the one place where they’re really involved and deeply engaged is the Web. Especially through mommy blogs.”

Courtney Loveman, who goes by the title “brand mother” at Seventh Generation, Burlington, Vt., which produces eco-friendly household and personal-care products, said the campaign is the first major advertising for the brand in four years. “We were late to the digital space in the first place and we’ve always felt that our message was best spread in people’s stories about our brand,” she said.

“Unless you’re a bio major or MIT grad, you’re not really sure what all these chemicals in the products you’re purchasing are and [manufacturers] might lead you to think they’re really good for you,” Gelner said, calling such misperceptions “greenwashing.” The new Seventh Generation Web site encourages consumers to look beyond a manufacturer’s labeling and advertising tactics and draws attention back to what’s inside the container.

However, Robert Passikoff, founder of Brand Keys, New York, said that while the initiative is noble in theory, the real question is how often and whether or not consumers will actually use the mobile device. “The problem is, if you’re a mom with a five-year-old or a newborn, you want to get in the store and out. You’re not looking to go in and scan the ingredients.

“The acid test for all this is, if you were to ask 1,000 people whether they thought this would be a good idea or not, virtually everyone would tell you, ‘yes,'” he said. But time limitations and real-world pressures dictate otherwise. If moms are really doing their homework, they’re not doing it when they’re shopping.”