Zoom Advertising has embarked on a number of greening initiatives to show it cares for the environment and is a conscious brand. Deon Robbertze is the Creative Director of Zoom Advertising and the pioneering force behind Zoom’s green initiatives. He also developed the ‘My Tree in Africa’ project, which aims to ‘green’ the tourist industry.
‘Since the Industrial Revolution, brands have only cared about an increase in market share and have looked inwards, not outwards at the effect they have on the world around them. People realise that we need to stop defining ourselves by what we own, and start defining ourselves by what we do.
Brands need to do the same, in turn supporting their community and the greater environment around them. All companies should become carbon neutral within, and push their clients to do the same, in an attempt to create a sustainable world.’
My tree in Africa
Zoom offset their carbon footprint through Food and Trees for Africa, who plants trees in disadvantaged communities. On their web site is an online carbon calculator, which Zoom used to log its total number of flights, car travel, paper usage and electricity usage. This information was collected from the Zoom staff members and fed into the calculator. It resulted in a calculation of 60.5 tonnes – the agency’s estimated total carbon footprint. The planting of roughly 300 trees would offset this carbon debt. They decided to plant more trees than necessary, in order to do good for the environment.
‘Once we had all the figures, we then added a further 10% for margin of error. With car travel, for example, we included employees’ total travel in a year, and not just their work travel. We have more than covered our footprint.’
‘My Tree in Africa’ aims to offset tourists’ carbon footprint by buying a tree. A single return trip to Europe or America will set you back a single tree – so it’s a good idea to plant a tree after every long-haul trip you take. By 2010, South Africa will have an estimated 10-million tourists a year. When overseas clients book trips to South Africa, their booking agents offer them a tree to offset their carbon footprint for R80. The president of SA Tourism recently stated that we need to do something about the carbon footprint overseas visitors make when they visit our country. ‘My Tree in Africa’ is a solution. With 2010 looming, we need to promote South Africa as environmentally responsible, because many of these visitors will be green-aware.
Zoom aims to extend the ‘My Tree in Africa’ project in the near future by giving inbound travellers the option of purchasing solar cookers and solar panels for South African communities. Zoom’s greening initiative stems from the agency’s underlying idea of being a conscious brand. Being a conscious brand centres around attaining results through innovation and sustainability.
The Conscious Brand
The company has published a book on this topic, titled ‘The Conscious Brand.’ The book centres around a respected brand who thinks himself very important. He walks around town making sure that people notice him. One day, he walks through a different neighbourhood and gets lost. He doesn’t help people, so they don’t help him. Eventually he finds his way again, and stops and thinks about things. His experiences make him question what sort of brand he is, why people treat him the way they do, and why he always speaks to the same people in the same places. As a result, he decides to become a conscious brand. He soon becomes a loved brand, as he starts to take a different route for a change, speaking with instead of at people, doing good for others and not just doing well for himself, and considering the future today. He had managed to also change the way people felt about him. His new brand motto became ‘Results through Innovation and Sustainability.’
Steve Massey, Managing Director of Zoom Advertising, explains the reasoning behind the book as follows:
‘I’ve always believed that advertising shouldn’t just be about winning awards. Don’t get me wrong, recognition is important. But it shouldn’t be the driving force. I believe that marketing and advertising should be about results. And results can take many forms – even that of awards. Over the past ten years, our retail background, along with the courage of our clients, has presented us with the perfect platform to achieve outstanding results. Our media-neutral approach and our emphasis on innovation have helped drive this philosophy. But this is not enough. We believe it is also our duty to make a positive difference to our local community and the world at large. And in doing so, to connect with consumers on a higher level. This book is an attempt to explain, in a simple way, how this can be achieved.’
Before Robbertze embarked on Zoom’s green initiatives, MD Steve got involved with the Topsy Foundation. The company has thus always been on the sustainable bandwagon. Established in early 2000, this is a non-profit organisation providing sanctuaries for infants and children directly or indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS. The founding director of the Topsy Foundation seized an opportune moment at a social gathering to share his vision for an AIDS sanctuary with Steve.
He was so taken with the idea that he became its champion and volunteered to become a director of the Topsy Foundation. Topsy Foundation’s vision has led to Zoom completely changing the manner in which it engages with the social sector. In the past, Zoom chose one charity per year with whom to get involved. Now the company has made an open ended long-term commitment to the Topsy Foundation, treating it as a special project. It handles the strategic direction, creative direction and execution, publicity, public relations and preparation of advertising for the Topsy Foundation.
Zoom Advertising is also looking to get involved with the successful ‘one laptop per child’ initiative, currently running in America, and will be handling all marketing for the 2009 Green Marketing Conference. Zoom’s clients are starting to take note of the company’s stance and asking for assistance in becoming more carbon neutral themselves. Giltedge Travel, a member of the Travel Smart group, has already decided to follow Zoom’s footsteps in determining its carbon footprint.
The green corporate future
Paperless offices are definitely the way to go, as more and more people are connected online. In certain industries, like advertising agencies, this is not possible, as they often need to print out mock ups and scamps of campaigns. Companies which are heavily reliant on printing things out should try and attain a balance. This is possible through the use of recycled paper, making sure any paper waste gets sent to a recycling depot and by constantly questioning what you do to ensure you remain conscious of the effects of your actions. Zoom encourages everyone to think green and sustainable.
They recently set up a ‘think green’ team within the company, which is responsible for putting systems in place to ensure they become and remain sustainable. They also increase staff awareness and target recycling and energy saving within the company’s building in Cape Town.
‘Companies should start now or run the risk of being left behind. Brands that are not conscious will start dying out, with consumers increasingly demanding that corporates start giving back,’ says Robbertze.
‘And government will soon get involved in the drive to green.’
By Leigh Andrews