Tag Archive: Sustainable Solutions


The BMW Museum and BMW World are located directly across from each other at the headquarters of the luxury auto/motorcycle designer/manufacturer in München.

Bayerische Motoren Werke (e.g., Bavarian Motor Works or BMW) adopted the tag, keeping faith with the “Rule of Three”: The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Based upon the company’s expert use of the English language and conceivably the home German Sprache as well, BMW achieved the much desired marketing goal of less is more.

Translated, BMW was able to deliver a compelling message to its target audiences (i.e., customers, media, shareholders, suppliers) using an economy of words. At the same time, each word has purpose with a powerful amplifying adjective to enhance the corporate brand and to drive sales (no pun intended).

And for the most part there is little repetition of words and no clichés (see “solutions”).

Here is how BMW at its museum describes its legendary design and engineering prowess:

 

Let’s breakdown BMW’s 101-word statement by sentence with a focus on carefully selected nouns and powerful modifying adjectives. The Almost DailyBrett (ADB) commentary follows each sentence.

“At BMW, designs are created by people for people.

ADB: The brand is immediately identified. Short, punchy attention-grabbing opening.

“In an inspiring culture of dialogue, a wide variety of disciplines, expertise and experience are combined to become an unrivaled creative force.

ADB: Skillful use of the Rule of Three: disciplines, expertise and experience. Powerful adjectives modifying concluding noun – unrivaled creative force.

“The common goal is to achieve the perfect harmonious development process for designing a vehicle.

ADB: BMW designers and engineers work as a team, using “the perfect harmonious development process … .” All organizations seek out skillful team players.

“The unique feature of this process is the internal design competition.

ADB: The “unique” feature is “competition” in internal design. As Martha would say, creative tension is a ‘Good thing.’

“It ensures the power of innovation is always present.

ADB: “Power” and “Innovation” are two of the most vibrant words in any language

“Only a strong team with a professional approach can successfully complete this demanding competitive stage.

ADB: This statement misses no opportunities to present compelling nouns with enhancing adjectives: Strong before team; Successfully before complete; Demanding and competitive before stage.

“Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection and a passion for every single detail are the key elements in producing a successful design.”

ADB: Rule of Three once again – Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection. Pathos or passion for every single detail. Key modifying elements. Strong verb: producing. Successful before design.

Let’s face it. Marketing in the 21st Century is far too many times subject to clichés or lazy combinations of buzz words.

For example, FedEx shamefully took the overused “Sustainable” and the mind-numbing “Solutions” and came up with … you guessed it … “Sustainable Solutions” for its ad about how the package carrying company’s planes and trucks protect the critters in the forest.

Gag!

How’s that for green washing on steroids?

Less is More

“The way in which information is exchanged so quickly has forever changed the way in which people want to consume information. They demand that things be condensed into 20-second sound bites. With complex problems, this is exceedingly difficult, but to be an effective communicator and leader you need to be able to condense complex items down to the core and be able to do this quickly.” – Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister.

Certainly, BMW is not the only company on the planet that makes the most out of the least number of words. Having said that, BMW is mindful of Prime Minister Blair’s admonition, which is particularly relevant in our microscopic-attention span, texting culture.

 

Here are the nouns that BMW chronologically chose to tell the story: Designs, Culture, Dialogue, Disciplines, Expertise, Experience, Force, Goal, Development Process, Features, Competition, Power, Innovation, Team, Approach, Commitment, Enthusiasm, Perfection, Passion.

Now let’s examine the adjectives – once again in chronological sequence – to amplify the nouns to present BMW’s engineering culture: Inspiring, Unrivaled. Creative, Perfect, Harmonious, Unique, Internal, Strong, Professional, Demanding, Competitive, Successful.

Almost DailyBrett is fired up after reviewing that list.

As an assistant professor of public relations, investor relations and integrated marketing communications, your author knows the bottom line is to tell the story, and to tell it well.

BMW achieved this worthy goal in just 101 skillfully chosen words and bolstered the legendary, iconic brand as well.

Wunderbar!

Sustainable Cliche’?

Why would someone taking and passing “Sustainable Business” class at the University of Oregon’s Lillis School of Business have the audacity to question the use of the sacred word, “sustainable?”

Didn’t the students of this MBA class undertake a sustained effort for 10 weeks, producing capstone projects for sustainable businesses and non-profits, in order to secure a sustainable grade leading to a sustainable graduation and a sustainable career?

We did that and more. And yet it dawned on me that the words “sustainable” and “sustainability” are losing their identity and distinction. They are in danger of becoming cliché, if that has not already occurred.  If you don’t believe me just check out the 222 million Google results for these words.

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As Almost DailyBrett has commented these words have become virtually mandatory for marketers as evidenced by FedEx taking one overused buzzword, “sustainable” and combining it with another overused buzzword, “solutions” to produce (drum roll please): “Sustainable Solutions.” I am getting ill.

In an effort to discover new frontiers beyond “sustainability,” I drove my little green Miata through blowing snow last week to the 2012 Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism, sponsored by Travel Oregon, in Portland.

Did I hear the words, “sustainable” and “sustainability” dozens of time at the tourism conference? You bet ya…but I also heard innovative musings that point to a bright, new world beyond sustainability. Is that even possible and are these new thoughts, sustainable?

In particular, I heard the words of James Curleigh, president and chief executive officer of KEEN Footwear, based in the ultra cool Pearl District in the Northwest quadrant of Portland. His message was consistent with the notion of sustainability, but it goes much further…even as the privately held company reportedly brought in $240 million in revenues last year.

Curleigh secured the audience’s attention by singing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” as he was being introduced. Curleigh last year led a clapping audience in Tokyo in the Beatles’ “Revolution” as a way of gaining attention. Soloing at the beginning of a presentation takes major cojones and at least a half-way decent singing voice.

curleigh

Curleigh is much more than a dynamic, passionate extemporaneous speaker with a natural gift for communicating and literally spellbinding an audience. He is a believer. He embraces the “hybrid life” concept of KEEN Footwear, sandals with roots in ancient times with modern big-toe bumper plates. He is a child of the 60s with a business plan for the 21st Century.

He invokes the “positive collision” as he calls it of “create, play, care” to introduce “hybrid life.” Curleigh, who is also KEEN’s “chief product tester” and “chief recess officer,” follows the mantra of “Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take what you do real seriously.” As evidence of this motto, the light-hearted KEEN donated its 2004 marketing budget to the victims of that year’s Asian tsunami.

Speaking before several hundred Oregon tourism and hospitality business owners, he asked whether Meriwether Lewis and William Clark would be proud of the state that was the destination of their infamous 1804-1806 trek across America’s fruited plain. The consensus was the two explorers would be pleased with the place bordering the Pacific Ocean, located south of the Columbia River and north of the California line that conjures up images of trees, windswept beaches, majestic peaks and high deserts.

Curleigh saluted Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood as an example of “collaborative stewardship.” Is that another way of saying “sustainable” or “sustainability?”

General George S. Patton is famous for his quote, “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone is not thinking.” Curleigh offers a glimmer and maybe more of at least one person thinking outside of the “sustainable” and “sustainability” box.

Not sure the general would have condoned Curleigh’s beard, t-shirt and casual pants, but his way of looking at the world and seeing new ways to market corporate social responsibility would have found favor with the general looking for those with new ways of thinking.

Editor’s Note: I have no engagement with KEEN. I have never met James Curleigh (even though I would like to have that opportunity). And I wear Sketchers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KEEN,_Inc.

http://www.keenfootwear.com/us/en/explorekeen.aspx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1pPMqG2NWo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTNuwPplaxI&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WqGXO5yzXM&feature=related

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/thirty-four-miles-from-point-a-to-point-b-and-memphis-tennessee-in-between/

It had to happen. Highly compensated marketing and advertising pros take one overused public relations buzzword and simply jam it together with another overused public relations buzzword. In one particular case, wouldn’t you expect a little bit more creativity from a $40 billion global company with 290,000 employees?

And yet FedEx has adopted the tag “Sustainable Solutions” to tell its green story, even with a tantalizing one-minute animated television spot. The tale with cute animal tails (see link below) depicts how FedEx trucks and planes are doing good for the planet, while burning fossil fuels to ship a package from point A to FedEx’s mega-package distribution center in Memphis, Tennessee before sending it on to point B, which actually may be closer to point A in the first place…if you follow me.

When I was living in Pleasanton, CA, located in the East Bay, I was selling two tickets via StubHub for the September 2009 Oregon vs. California football game in Eugene, OR. Not surprisingly a buyer from Berkeley wanted the tickets. StubHub provided me with the shipping label to fedex (corporate verb) the tickets from my Pleasanton house in Alameda County to the buyer’s Berkeley house 34 miles to the west in Alameda County.

eddickson

I was provided with a tracking number and followed the trail of my two Oregon seats for sale. Did they go from FedEx in Pleasanton over the 580 freeway and then to 880 to Berkeley, a trip that takes about 40 minutes in traffic? You guessed it. They were transported by FedEx in one of its sustainable trucks to a sustainable plane 2,061 miles across two-time zones to Memphis, offloaded at the Memphis Airport, processed, reloaded and then reshipped 2,061 miles in a sustainable plane back across the same two-time zones to the Bay Area and then driven in a sustainable truck to the final destination about 34 miles from my house.

How’s that for a sustainable solution? For a 34-mile trip, my package traveled 4,156 miles. Sorry, I still don’t get it.

In fairness to FedEx, my two tickets, placed and sealed in a recycled package, were transported by FedEx in one of its electric trucks to a low-emission plane 2,061 miles across two-time zones to Memphis, offloaded at the Memphis Airport, processed, reloaded and then reshipped 2,061 miles in a low-emission plane back across the same two-time zones to the Bay Area and then driven in a low-emission truck to the final destination about 34 miles from my house.

The FedEx “Sustainable Solutions” story is grounded in electric trucks, recycled materials and low-emission planes, which should help the “shipping giant” dodge a “greenwashing” charge. However, the question needs to be asked: Is it really green if all roads and flight plans lead to Memphis IT processing regardless of the destination of the package? Maybe there is a logical explanation, but FedEx will have a hard time explaining the environmental benefits of shipping my tickets first to Memphis in order to ship them back to Berkeley.

To top it off, FedEx with its new marketing tag may be infringing on or borrowing from the plethora of firms that call themselves (drum roll): “Sustainable Solutions.” There is Sustainable Solutions International as in building products http://www.sustainablesolutions.com/. And there is Sustainable Solutions Unlimited as in solar products http://solutions21st.com/. And yes, there is Sustainable Solutions Corporation that educates clients about sustainable solutions http://www.sustainablesolutionscorporation.com/. And not to be outdone, there is Sustainable Solutions LLC, a natural resource consulting company in the citadel of infinite wisdom, Washington, DC http://www.sustainablesolutionsllc.net/. Overall, there are almost 10 million Google search results for “Sustainable Solutions.”

Almost one year ago, Almost DailyBrett commented on how the public relations industry was pounding certain buzzwords, reducing them to cliché status as a result of their reflexive overuse and overhyping. The words (and phrases) include: Brand, Cloud, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Organic, Solutions, Sustainable, Thinking Out of the Box and Thought Leadership. And all of them can be incorporated, as Almost DailyBrett demonstrated, into one mega run-on sentence courtesy of the PR industry:

“Today we are thinking out of the box in leveraging a portfolio of organic, sustainable cloud computing solutions that enhance your company brand, while demonstrating thought leadership and exemplifying your dedication to corporate social responsibility.”

Almost DailyBrett paid special recognition to Microsoft for taking two buzz words and incorporating them into the same ad: “Most Comprehensive Solutions for the Cloud on Earth” or “Cloud Power.” This year, FedEx is dispensing with all the additional words and just jamming “Sustainable” and “Solutions” together.

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Maybe FedEx could get more bang for their green marketing buck by combining three overused PR buzzwords instead of just two. How about: “Organic Sustainable Solutions?” Surely, FedEx’s electric trucks, recycled materials and low-emission planes can be certified by some organization as “organic.” If “Sustainable Solutions” assists FedEx in telling its Corporate Social Responsibility story, then “Organic Sustainable Solutions” would be even better from a CSR standpoint and maybe even when it comes to Thought Leadership as well.

Now how can FedEx work the “Cloud” into the “Organic Sustainable Solutions Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) campaign? Certainly clouds are organic and Darwin knows they are sustainable.

The real issue is the word, “Sustainable.” The word is everywhere, and it seems to be used by everyone. Heck, I am taking “Sustainable Business” right now. And if “Sustainable” is used everywhere by everyone when does it start becoming noise? And if “Sustainable” becomes the equivalent of verbal elevator music, then does it eventually lose its currency with the general public? And if this currency is spent, then who is responsible? Are PR and marketing pros guilty of literally loving buzz words and phrases to death? That’s not sustainable.

http://www.commercialsihate.com/fedex-sustainable-solutions–video_topic11750.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/pounding-pr-buzz-words-to-death/

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