Seventh Generation, the eco-friendly home and personal-care brand whose name serves as an inspiration to leave something for future generations, is hoping there will be a planet left for its namesake.
Working alongside 350.org, a nonprofit seeking to end the use of fossil fuels, Seventh Generation is donating its commercial airtime on NBC’s The Today Show throughout the week of Sept. 16, all in the name of the climate crisis.
Instead of a commercial for a cleaning solution, an ad about mobilizing people around climate change will run for the global climate strike, which takes place on Sept. 20.
The ad buy replaces Seventh Generation’s work with SNL alumna Maya Rudolph. Although the ad was purchased as a scatter buy, neither Mindshare or Seventh Generation would comment on the cost of the airtime, though according to SQAD, an advertising research and data company, ad rates for the Today Show range from $28,908 during the 7 a.m. block to $5,247 during the 10 a.m. block, depending on which hour of the three-hour broadcast it runs.
The ad is slated to air in the 10 a.m. hour on Monday; the 9 a.m. hour on Tuesday, and between the 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. blocks on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Seventh Generation is also asking other businesses to donate time and ad space to the strike. The company won’t be promoting its products on social media that week, and it’ll close its Burlington, VT offices in order to make it easier for employees to participate in the strike.
Bill Bayer, managing partner at Mindshare, which is Seventh Generation’s media agency, said in an email that it “is very rare for a brand to donate airtime, at their expense, to a cause.”
350.org is working alongside creative shop Futerra and the director Rankin to create the ad.
Even though 350.org holds the fossil fuel industry accountable for exacerbating climate change, the ad won’t be aimed at a specific target.
Instead, the ad will focus on mobilizing support behind the climate change action and the global climate strike. “We have a core goal to build the climate movement,” said Sabelo Narasimhan, 350.org’s U.S. digital director.”We are trying to build this intergenerational message to get as many people as possible on the streets on the 20th.”
Ilgrim Dara Benoit, an assistant marketing professor at Appalachian State University, said that when fulfilling corporate “social responsibilities” most brands do it in indirect ways, integrating consumers by asking them to donate or make a purchase. “They aren’t expecting consumers to do anything, they are just going ahead and donating,” said Benoit.
From a marketing perspective, Benoit said that even though Seventh Generation isn’t throwing its logo at the end of the ad or giving themselves credit for the commercial, the donation is still a savvy marketing move.
“It signals that they are being honest and that they are genuine,” said Benoit. “They really mean it when they say they care about environmental sustainability and society at large.”
As for an economic incentive, Hanneke Willenborg, CMO, Seventh Generation, thinks that it’s pretty clear.
“The economic incentive is that we will still have a business in 11 years from now,” she said, referencing the United Nations’s announcement that there were only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change.
Global Climate Strike
Led by a coalition of young organizers and activists demanding transformative action “at the scale of the climate crisis,” the strike is set to take place around the world, culminating the week of the United Nation’s Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23.
“We predict that this is the biggest crisis that this generation and the next seven generations are facing, so we want to make sure we step up to help solve it,” Willenborg said. “Everything else that we will do is just re-arranging chairs on the Titanic if we don’t address the crisis … We as adults can not leave this to our children.”
The global climate strike movement has largely been led by student activists, most notably Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student who left school to bring awareness to climate change. In order to minimize her carbon footprint, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in order to speak at the UN’s Youth Climate Summit in New York City on Sept. 21.
“We don’t usually have the resources to fund something like this,” said Narasimhan. “The climate crisis is already all around us … This ad makes possible the ability to reach new audiences and bring more people to the climate movement.”