These Sustainable Brands Conferences do attract the bigs. And both of these global athletic manufacturers brought goose-bump-raising videos, high-style presentations and some steps toward sustainability. So who is #1?

Nike opened with a survey that looked at the attitudes of 17-year olds, but, with an interesting twist. They decided to exclude any participants who self-identified as ‘green’. Thus, their study was much more focused on mainstream attitudes. Their main finding: the word ‘Sustainability’ does not resonate with non-green 17-year-olds at all. A typical response: “Sustainability isn’t easy or compelling. It’s confusing. I want to do the right thing, I just don’t know how.” Nike’s answer: branding their sustainability as ‘Better World’.
Winner: Nike

Alexis Olans from Adidas presented their sustainability strategy, ironically titled ‘Better Place’. It focused largely on the significant reduction in samples and waste from their 3-D design and modeling technology, and showcased the ‘Adiverse’ – a full wall-sized touch-screen in-store kiosk that lets buyers review all aspects of the shoes in animated full-screen interactive glory. Had the whole place reaching for their cel phones to get a picture of it.
Winner: Adidas

The Big Picture:
Overall, Adidas’ main sustainability claim seemed to be a beautifully dressed-up version of reducing manufacturing waste through better design and modeling technology.
Nike’s ‘Better World’ initiative, on the other hand, appears to be aimed at their whole system of business. One quote from their top-secret slides: “Embed Better World in everything we do.” The kicker was their Better World manifesto, delivered in a video montage made of “100% recycled ads” and voiced by Phil Knight, Nike founder and a majority shareholder. (Have a look below) If they can lead with sustainability the way they do with branding, it will be a great example to the rest of the corporate world.
Nike, Winner by a knockout.

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