Are Supply Chain announcements more important than Ad Campaigns in 2017?

Seems like everyone is rushing these days to announce something new about how their products are made and how materials are sourced. These aren’t stories about new ingredients and new features but stories about where raw materials are being sourced from, what processes are being used and how they are made.

Lego announced that it will no longer be using petrochemicals to make its products. Even though it may be a long way off before it happens, they have committed to a $150 million plan to seek a sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to the oilbased plastics it has traditionally used.”  That’s a lot of money but this has also been a big story that has been picked up by journalists and run with for over a year.

Adidas announced it’s making a shoe using recycled ocean waste plastic. The shoe has an “upper” made of 95% ocean plastic (scooped up near the Maldives), and the rest of the shoe is made from largely recycled materials as well. It’s called “UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley.”


Last week Apple announced all their iPhones will be made from 100% recycled materials in the future. They don’t know when they can achieve this by or how they are going to do it, or if it’s even possible but Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, has made the the ambition public.

So what’s the deal with this? Trendwatching has long argued  that it’s got a lot to do with Consumer Guilt and how we are all starting to not just see the negative side of Consumerism but to FEEL it too. Of course Adidas is not going to make even a tiny dent in the ocean plastics problem with its initiative so we can see that this as partly just good PR but what it does is moves them, in our perception in the right direction, from problem creator to problem solver. Also on an emotional level they appear to believe what we believe and that’s the essence of good branding and more important when it comes to brand advocacy than any clever ad campaign. Brands alone can’t solve environmental problems and many would argue they are in fact the biggest problem but they can be part of a solution if they choose.

Do we trust Brands on this? I think it’s fair to say that CEO guilt exists too so there are some genuine attempts here to do something. As long as people can see an ongoing commitment to reducing environmental impact then they will believe brands that tell these stories but any sign of them reneging on commitments will be doubly damaging. It will hit them harder than companies that don’t appear to care. Apple’s has put its sustainability map out there so they will have to stick to it. It’s worth noting that when you look at the benefits of advocacy vs cost then in many cases these changes do stack up financially too.

More important than advertising? Well I guess you could say that Supply Chain announcements are now a growing part of a companies Advertising mix.

How can Brands make an even more positive environmental impact? Read about the Circular Economy here