blog action day

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Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is inequality. If the problem with society in America is poverty, the cause is inequality. There are other causes of course: poor parenting, inadequate education, drugs… but inequality is a root cause.

In recent brand and marketing plans developed for a new weight loss modality, I realized a strong component of the obesity epidemic is inequality. Bad eating habits in poor communities make for high indexing of obesity in lower socio-economic communities. That’s not to say obesity is not a problem among other classes of society (I feel dirty using the word classes), it is.  So in this marketing plan, I outlined two distinct targets based upon inequality. One I called the “Helplessly Obese,” the other “Weight Challenged.” Guess which one was the middle/upper class target?  Though they shared psychological similarities, there were enough noticeable differences to warrant separate tactics – media and otherwise.

The thing about understanding inequality is that it should be used for good, not exploitation. Pushing 32 oz. drinks to poor kids is wrong. Marketers who understand inequality for helpful reasons, will win customers hearts and minds. Marketers spending money to sell to middle and upper class consumers could take a page from this playbook. Peace!

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Today is Blog Action Day and the theme this year is human rights.  As a marketer and advertising agent, I’ve done my share of toothpaste selling.  That said, I must admit to enjoying cause-related marketing.  Readers know brand strategies with a cause, or facsimile of a cause, tend to have greater ballast.

I was at the Influx Creativity Conference yesterday in NYC and Paull (two Ls) Young spoke about his organization Charity Water.  It is a wonderful charity whose purpose is to make clean water available to all earthlings. Check them out here.  Where do water and human rights intersect? The root cause of human rights abuses is poverty. Around  Anthropologists will tell you that when hunter gatherers learned how to farm, governance and science accelerated. So when 2 to 4 hours a day are not dedicated to water gathering, there is time for other positive pursuits such as education.  And education is an inoculation against poverty. (You with me?)

Mr. Young suggested that every $1 invested in water and sanitation provides a $13 dollar economic benefit.  Take that marketing return to your CFO.

One of the cool tactical ideas in support of the charitable giving effort was to get people to swear off receiving birthday present for the year. If everyone in your family donates the cash equivalent of your birthday gift to the cause, it turns into a fairly nice sum. Plus it begins a groundswell of participants, who pass on the deed and become invested in it. It’s a feel good tactic with purpose-based virality.

There’s lot to Charity Water and its smart marketing strategy, but it is at its core an anti-poverty campaign. Peace be upon all the Charity Water donors.

PS. Thanks to Ed Cotton, Influx and Butler Shine Stern and Partners for a great Influx Conference. 

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Yesterday was Blog Action Day and the topic this year is food; another important  topic we all too often take for granted. As we do with air and water.

At the end of this month theplanet’s population will top 7 billion. Most of the growth is coming from countries and areas that are underfed, undernourished and under-watered. These areas don’t seen to have fertility problems. Is it possible that making the body work harder to sustain itself is better for the planet than eating French fries, salted snacks and high-calorie things that come wrapped in paper and Styrofoam?

I am an evolutionist who believes there is a very direct correlation between the man, earth and bio-chemistry.  You grow what you sow, so to speak. 

For too long we’ve been a car and fossil fuel country. It has to stop.  Sadly, even the smartest venture capital companies (Google whatstheidea+kleiner perkins) that have taken a stand and opted to jump start green tech have returned to focusing on social media start-ups.  Carlota Perez, a big picture genius, interviewed by Fred Wilson last week said our future is not in technology but in sustainability. She is right.

But food, how do we fix food?  And what will be the incentive.  How do we eat better. Eat less. Eat things that don’t enable diseases?  President Obama knows fixing these two things is the answer, but like Kleiner Perkins he knows it’s a steep uphill effort.  And long term.

According to Chipotle each week 330 farmers leave their land. Farming is a noble business. Farmers tend to get the whole eat well thing.  We can find a way to combine a healthy eating lifestyle and the reduction of fossil fuel (burning) consumption.  That is the mission. That is the future. That will fix much. Peace! 

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Save a Cup.

On average, Americans use 159 gallons of water a day – more than 15 times that of the average person in the developing world.  Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is water.  Our overuse of water in America is. embarrassing.  My mother-in-law, who lives in North Carolina, is always talking of droughts.  Our lawn this year was a brown mess by summer’s end, because we chose to limit our watering.  (Our neighbors lawns looked fine.) That said, our upstairs toilet is huge, wasting more water per flush than it needs. Many are aware of their water-wasting and are beginning to do something about it.  In fact, we are legislating change but it’s really not enough.

Just as I stopped taking brown paper bags and handfuls of napkins from delis years ago, I need to think more about flushing and ablutions and showering.  No brainer. What the future holds in store for us are two kinds of water in America: potable water and non-potable.   Non-potable water will be used to wash clothes, cars, flush toilets and water lawns.  It will probably be recycled water or slightly desalinated from the coast. The good stuff will be for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth. (And hopefully in the preparation of beer.)

We have lots to do, so let’s start now.  If you’ve ever been really, really thirsty you know how special water is.  Please celebrate it and treat it as precious.  Save a cup today. Peace!

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Today is Blog Action Day, the topic for which is the environment.

Global warming is a horrific, long-term problem for the planet. The trapping of carbon dioxide, methane and other noxious gases is altering the planet’s flora and fauna in ways we can’t imagine in our day-to-day world view. But the brand “global warming” is in some ways even more insidious. Who ever came up with the term created a brand that’s quite a euphemism. When has the word warm really had such a bad connotation? And how about “climate change” or “greenhouse gases,” those terms shiver me spleen.

Methane gas escaping into our atmosphere accounts for about 1/3 of all greenhouse emissions and stays there for 10 years. Carbon dioxide, the most common gaseous emission, lingers 100 plus years. Are you getting a warm feeling? Not me, I’m pissed.

Methane, carbon dioxide and the euphemistic words used to describe the ecosystem-changing area above our planet need to be demonized. No more happy words! For a society that curses and drops the f-bomb as we do, you’d think we could come up with some more apt, creative words to describe what’s enshrouding our planet. Here are some starter words to think about: toxic, deadly, cancerous, poisonous, noxious, odious, grisly… (Please comment with your entries, I’d enjoy hearing them. Here’s one: Global Warning!)

So on Blog Action Day I could ask you to shut off you lights, use more energy efficient appliances, stop flushing for number 1, and say “no bag please” to the deli guy, but I’d rather you change the way you refer to what happening to the planet. Let’s get more indignant. Let’s get angry! Words matter. Peace!

(Photo by New York Times, and EPA)

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I’m embarrassed to say I am one of those people that never give anything to beggars. That’s what we 50 year olds call them, at least from my part of the world. This was a rule of mine because I used to line in NYC between 5th and 6th Avenues where there were lots of outstretched hands.


Two quick stories: 1. I broke my rule one night when a person asked for $.17 so he could buy a can of Campbell’s Soup.   He was direct, had a purpose, and I believed him. 2. One night my pal and I ran into a dude we called “Mangia” at the Blarney Rock pub. We called him Mangia because he would echo this one Italian word up and down the corporate cannon in a most pitiful, pleading voice. The next time we saw Mangia, we were a little in our cups and ran up to him called him by our nickname, put on arm over his shoulder and gave him a beer. In a very Americanized voice, he said “Hey, thanks guys.”

I’m not proud of my “no change for anyone” coda so, starting today, I’m going to make up for lost time. Every time I am asked by a sober person seeking money, I promise to reach down into my pocket and dispense change. So long as there is some jingle in the pants, I will give it.   It’s a start.

PS. I saw a woman give a homeless man her orange the other day, and it near brought me to tears. Peace!

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Wu hoo…activism.

My last post addressed how low cost manufacturing in countries like China and India are going to make inexpensive cars available to millions of new drivers, the result of which will be a new environmental crisis. Another crisis occurring in China today is pollution. One man — Wu Lihong — is in jail in China because he decided to bring attention to the fouling of Lake Tai, a huge body of water which supports millions of people. One man in a county of 1.3B, through his activism, has captured the attention of the world. Did he know, as he rode his bicycle around the lake collecting water samples and photographing midnight effluent run-ff from chemical plants that he would become the spokesperson for China’s pollution problems? Doubtful. He just saw a wrong and wanted to make a difference. For more information on Wu Luhong, please click through to the link below or search for his story on October 14, 2007 at
Activism will be critical to solving all environmental problems and, so each of us needs to make a stand. Whether is means refusing small bags at the store when you can easily carry your purchase by hand, or not taking 30 napkins from the deli, or writing marketers who continue to send pounds and pounds of paper catalogs to us in the mail each year. Or how about not using air-conditioning in our cars when opening the window will do.  
We need to be a little more protective of the environment. We need to become a little more indignant with those who are the problem. We all need to be a lot more like Wu Lihong. 

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