Sunday, October 11, 2015

Come as You Are

In the 1970s, hirsute posers—there were many—who showed up at sit-ins, rallies and music festivals were labeled "plastic hippies."

They'd take time off from their jobs, let down their hair, don their best tie-dye, pack a bong or a bottle of Boone's Farm, and make the scene.

People today are spared the need to package themselves in order to infiltrate happenings.

Brands are another matter.

To rate with Millennials, brands have to protest against global warming, epidemics, racism, homophobia, fat-shaming and unequal pay—or at least pretend to.

Henk CampherSan Francisco-based publicist and author of Creating a Sustainable Brand, calls the pretenders the "quick and dirty"—campers on the bottom steps of a "sustainable-brand pyramid" populated by:
  • Snake oil sellershypocrites (Volkswagen, for example);
  • Blah brands—big talkers (Apple); and 
  • Offset brands—penitents (Starbucks).
Not surprisingly, 99.9% of companies, according to Campher, lack any sustainability gene.

But at least they're honest about it.

My advice to plastic hippies: Come to the party, but come as you are. The rest of us—your customers, employees and investorsprefer the real you.
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