The Fear of Freaky Green
In recent correspondence with an overseas sponsorship executive, in which he heralded the zero-waste efforts of Waste Management during the recent WM Phoenix Open, I agreed that it was a perfect example of what sponsorship is intended to do–provide true, active fan engagement and a platform for brand awareness and product demonstration. I also provided some other examples of sustainability in American pro sports, and offered to make some introductions if he wanted to learn more.
His reply surprised me at first when he said “No thanks,
I’m not freaky green. Just found the WM thing interesting.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that “green” is still considered by many to be an issue on the fringes that perhaps carries with it some undesirable connotation of extremeness, as if embracing sustainability in any form will immediately brand one a liberal hippy anti-business tree hugger. For all the strides sustainability has made in corporate and consumer America, and in particular the early successes in the world of sports, I wonder if indeed some companies are afraid to publicly embrace it for fear of being labeled Freaky Green.
Additionally, a 2011 OgilvyEarth
of consumers indicated that “green” was overwhelmingly considered to be largely a feminine issue. Might there be a perception among big time sports and marketing executives that sustainability isn’t macho enough for their league, team or brand? If ever there was an opportunity to reframe this consumer perception, and make green cool and mainstream, I suggest it is through sports.