Innocent has come a long way since I first encountered it on sticker posted over an underground LEP back someime around 2002, and not all of the brand’s journey has been smooth. despite endearing initiatives such as the granny-knit bobble hats for charity (which I blogged about here back in November), there have been wobbles – the tie up with McDonald’s being perhaps the most notable (great debate from back in May here).
Innocent is a brand which – ironically – is most open to John Grant’s second principle of green branding, which I blogged about here. Grant’s principle states that in marketing a brand you have to "be certain that your business and the green marketing itself will live up to the standards which you set for yourself". the reason that Innocent attracted so much criticism was that the McDonald’s move was in direct conflict with the brand engram the company has so carefully built.
Innocent more than most brands has to be whiter than white, so I’m always more than a little interested when I encounter a new green-orientated initiative from the brand. I noticed one such initiative – ‘Buy One Get One Tree’ – on my kitchen bench last week. a fellow Burgoyner had purchased a big carton of Innocent. an act which had entitled him to plant a tree.
it’s a great initiative. everything from the pun (BOGOT) to the virtual forest online which allows to to plant a tree on someone’s behalf. and they’re clearly conscious of their transparency issues; the website contains a plethora of background information on how it works to who it benefits via which credible organisations they’re tied up with to make it happen.
it’s a great example of what Jim Taylor (he of the Space Race book) calls instore-out planning (as opposed to outstore-in).
the principle suggests that rather than creating advertising designed to drive people to a generic product on shelf, by reversing the model and using unique, differentiated, and changing products on shelf as the starting point for communications, you not only get more interesting end-point advertising (for example an ad that in this case says "thanks for helping us plant 100,000 trees") but arguably links much more strongly back to the product… it shouldn’t have missed anyone’s attention that you can only plant a tree on the Innocent website once per purchase, via a unique code that’s written on the carton.
this is an initiative which has sales-generation and increased frequency of purchase at its heart. but there’s nothing wrong with that. they’re a commercial organisation in a capitalist economy, and if increased frequency of sales allow them to get 100,000 trees planted sooner rather than later, then all the better for it.