Biz Markie reworks 'Just a Friend' as an enviro-rap for Earth Day

Posted on Thu Apr 22 2010

It's already been used as an ode to partying, and responsibly taking a cab with your sloshed friends, in a Heineken commercial. Now, the old-school rap classic "Just a Friend" gets an Earth Day makeover from its creator, DJ Biz Markie, and a bunch of lip-synching, enviro-friendly folks (and one cat!). The effort comes from Repower America, a non-profit group that lobbies for clean-energy legislation. The reworking might be a little strained, but its heart sure is in the right place. Come on, everybody, sing along! "Cuz we need clean energy/Cuz we need clean energy."

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Burtify yourself for Earth Day with Burt's Bees special promotion

Posted on Wed Apr 21 2010

Do I need to find my Burt? Apparently so, says an online promotion for Burt's Bees and an event that'll be happening in Times Square on Thursday, which is Earth Day. I don't know about the rest of you, but even as a fan of the products (the Super Shiny lip gloss is fantastic!), I've never given much thought to the guy himself. That would be Burt Shavitz, a Maine-based beekeeper and co-founder of the nature-loving company. But I'm considering Burtifying myself via webcam on the site, which involves getting a bushy beard, mutton chops and a goofy hat. Why not? It'll also tell me how Earth-friendly I am (so I can be closer to Burt-ness). While I'm there, I'll see factoids like this: "The Burt's Bees manufacturing facility has zero landfill waste." If you're out and about in midtown on Earth Day, you can see the marketer's philosophy at work. Five bearded Burt look-alikes will be pedaling human-powered bike blenders and making smoothies entirely out of Burt's Bees beauty product ingredients (stuff like milk, honey, mango, yogurt, banana and pomegranate). There will be other sampling, like zero-waste "Burt Kits," giveaways and a free yoga class in Central Park, all via the marketer's new agency, Baldwin& of Durham, N.C. So, go ahead and Burtify. You can always beautify later.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

They sure make nice jewelry from old aluminum cans these days

Posted on Wed Apr 14 2010


Years ago, downtown hipster boutiques in Manhattan started selling handbags made from old license plates—cute, but a real bitch if it starts a run in one's chiffon dress. Recycled fashion recently got another boost with the 2009 debut of a Vassar, Mich.-based family outfit called Cangles, which, as the same suggests, makes bangle bracelets out of aluminum cans. (Finally, the perfect solution for those who hate the taste of Mountain Dew: Now you can wear the stuff without having to drink it.) Cangles is one of those green startups that's not only found a plausible use for some of the 36 billion cans that end up in landfills each year but also gives a hefty percent of its profits to Michigan-area charities. It's also given us a new marketing wrinkle: eco co-branding. The jewelry company got together with the Save the Earth Foundation, which now features its Earth logo as a charm on the recycled bracelets. (A portion of sales will go to benefit the foundation's educational and research efforts.) So, ladies, now you don't have to feel as guilty about buying jewelry, because it's not shopping, it's recycling.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Crispin helping Green Garage get rolling toward a happier planet

Posted on Tue Mar 23 2010

When he's not blowing off reporters, Crispin Porter + Bogusky creative guru Alex Bogusky is indulging his passions, which include using his creative powers for good. One such extracurricular activity is Green Garage, a Boulder, Colo.-based business that promises to "green-tune" your old clunker by installing a dual-stage oil filter and biodegradable oil, among other eco-interventions. In step with the current wave of green brands, it also avoids preachiness in favor of upbeat, common-sense arguments about saving money. A Crispin-produced ad running locally in the Boulder market also maintains that tone with line-drawn animation showing "Ron," a guy who loves his SUV but feels bad that it pollutes the environment. Thankfully, Green Garage allows him to keep his gas guzzler. "A happy wallet leads to a happy Ron living on a happy planet," says the voiceover. Most environmentalists would probably be happy if the Green Garage concept works, even if they are less sanguine about some other Crispin clients, like Burger King and Coca-Cola.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Stand tall in Earth Inc.'s Biostep recycled, biodegradable shoes

Posted on Mon Mar 1 2010


April 22 is Earth Day, and in case you've got nothing suitable to put on your feet to go with those hemp pants, organic cotton tie-dye shirt and crocheted dread tam, the Earth Inc. footwear company of Waltham, Mass., has just the thing to help you take your ecological stand: recycled, biodegradable shoes. In what has to be a first, the Biostep line of sandals, sneakers and slip-on casuals uses post-consumer-recycled plastic bottles for the linings and recycled milk cartons for the insole boards. And it's all held together with water-based adhesive. (Hell, even the boxes they come in are glue-free and printed with soy-based inks.) Millennial as all of this may sound, Earth Inc. actually started making eco-friendly shoes 15 years ago. "First we converted to using only water-based adhesives, then we began to use recycled soda bottles for our linings," says president Gary Champion. "Most recently, we introduced a biodegrable sole, which is really a huge breakthrough in the industry."
  No doubt. But—hey, wait a sec—how do you make sure the shoes don't start to biodegrade while you've got them on? "Good question," says Champion, who goes on to explain that the soles are an amalgam of starch-based additives and non-starch polymers, which only begin to decompose during extremes in temperatures—like you get in a landfill. So, for everyday wear, you can stand tall with no worries. It's just that you won't be standing straight up. Another Biostep feature is a sole that's inclined to 3.7 degrees, "which gives users gat-burning and toning benefits," according to the sales materials.
  Then again, you could just go barefoot.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Hollywood studios taking a shine to the billboards-to-bags idea

Posted on Fri Jan 29 2010


My sleepy neighborhood farmer's market is about to get a visit from the Terminator. There won't be any explosions or gunfire, though—those organic blueberries are just too pricey to waste—and the robot assassin won't be there in the "flesh." It'll just be me toting a small piece of Warner Bros.' summer action hit, Terminator Salvation, in the form of a heavy-duty shopping bag made from the movie's billboard. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, instead of seeing this kind of vinyl end up in landfills (10,000 tons of it a year), a number of eco-conscious companies are now creating useful, one-of-a-kind products out of it. In Los Angeles, ad and marketing agency Midnight Oil Creative, its sibling production company LA Graphico and Billboard2Swag have collaborated to turn old movie billboards into wine bags, totes and eventually wallets, backpacks and other goodies. "For us, it's a sustainable calling card," says Brandon Gabriel, principal at Midnight Oil, "and for the studios, it's a continuous piece of marketing." The company counts Hollywood heavyweights like Disney, Fox and Sony among its clients, and discussions are taking place with all of them about recycling their outdoor ads. Each product will come with a tag that identifies its rom-com, thriller or family-flick origins. Midnight Oil is handing them out to vendors, clients and press. Though the decision to sell to the public hasn't been made yet, the items could become studio giveaways for contest winners and fans at conventions like Comic-Con. Stand back and watch the feeding frenzy over Avatar messenger bags.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Old billboard vinyl is now being recycled into groovy new bags

Posted on Tue Jan 12 2010


What happens to all that billboard vinyl after an outdoor campaign comes down? Well, almost 10,000 tons of it ends up in landfills every year. But now, thankfully, that next super-sized plug for Twilight might not end up in the trash after all. Yak Pak and TerraCycle—a New York based bag company and eco-friendly consumer goods maker, respectively—have teamed up to produce a line of "durable and affordable" bags made out of old billboard material. Billboard Bags combine "the strength of the billboard vinyl with Yak Pak's expertise in design" and are "one-of-a-kind masterpieces" that are "nearly indestructible," according to press materials. (How's that for a lifetime warranty?) Each bag is made from a unique piece of billboard, so there's no worry of someone duplicating your style. It all comes down to who wears it better—or in this case, who carries it better.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Obamas enjoy eco-friendly Christmas season at the White House

Posted on Fri Dec 18 2009


This Sunday, HGTV will continue what's become a tradition as reliable as the EZ-assemble $19.99 tree at Walmart: the White House Christmas special. Ever since Jacqueline Kennedy played hostess for the now-legendary televised tour of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue back in 1962 (that show aired in February, but never mind), Americans have, er, pined for a look at how the halls are decked at America's most famous manse. But something will be different this year: Christmas with Barack and Michelle will have decidedly green touches—and we don't mean just the mistletoe. For instance, the White House's special "Wishing Tree" is made of recycled cardboard, and staffers crafted much of the decorative garland from roots plucked from the White House gardens. Hydrangea blossoms from earlier flower arrangements were saved, dried, and will appear again in the holiday regalia. Even the lights for the official tree outside (sustainably sourced!) have been swapped out for energy-efficient LEDs. (See the photo above.) Best of all, more than 800 ornaments from previous presidential administrations were sent to volunteers, who restored them and sent them back. (Did the Bushes have special trickle-down-economic icicles?) It's sure to be a heartwarming event, because after all, it always is. Never mind that Oprah got there first and aired her own White House Christmas special on ABC this past Sunday. Fortunately, the nation's house is big enough for two camera crews.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Saving the world can wait when you're trying to save your wallet

Posted on Tue Nov 17 2009


Remember how buying eco-friendly brands and saving the planet made green the biggest marketing trend of the 2000s? Well, brand managers, read this before wrapping your arms around that tree over there. Many consumers seem to have relegated green to the backseat of the Prius. Right now, they're more worried about their jobs. Witness the results of the latest report from the Green Confidence Index. The monthly pulse check conducted by environmental group Earthsense found that although a significant number of consumers support the pro-environmental stance taken by the Obama administration, an increasing proportion of those surveyed believe the president should "focus on the economy first" before trying to save the planet. Not that this should be a huge surprise; it's a little tougher to worry about global warming when the job market is frozen solid. The index saw evidence of consumers' shifting attitudes most clearly when it came to the federal Cash for Clunkers appliance rebate program, set to roll out in the coming months. Respondents said that while it's great that they might get a rebate for buying a more energy-efficient microwave or washer/drier, they're worried that such big-ticket purchases will add to their credit-card balance at a time when many family budgets are already under water. Water meaning debt, folks, not melting ice caps.

—Posted by Robert Klara

Chipotle continuing green push with solar panels at 75 locations

Posted on Mon Oct 26 2009


Now you can rest assured knowing your burritos and tacos will be cooked in the warm, radiant beams of the sun. Well, not really. But as part of its "Food with Integrity" mission, burrito chain Chipotle last week announced it's installing solar panels on 75 of its restaurants over the course of the next year. The panels are being installed in cities like Denver, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. They will reduce energy usage during the restaurants' peak hours (11 a.m to 7 p.m.). Chipotle has already garnered several sustainability awards, including a Platinum LEED certification for its Gurnee, Ill., restaurant, which has an on-site wind turbine and underground cistern. The amount of power produced through the solar program will eliminate more than 41 million pounds of CO2 emissions, according to the company.

—Posted by Elaine Wong



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