I was forwarded the video below from one of my sustainable marketing colleagues, and when I saw the brand name ‘Michelin’ I was expecting a large, bold, global brand approach to tire sustainability. What I saw was a whiteboard video that looked like it might have come from the local tire repair shop. So is Michelin’s sustainability communications budget smaller than their annual corporate bill for paper clips? Or is there a larger agenda at work here?

The strategy behind the information is pretty solid; take the discussion to a level beyond that of mere tires, with the term ‘Sustainable Mobility’; address the key issue of tire use in the product lifestyle; offer some tips for viewers on how they can reduce their own impact. Though they could have gone deeper on how they are improving their manufacturing impacts (if at all) or addressing any of their own social impact programs (if any).

But it’s the tone and manner of the piece that intrigues me. Is a homespun message more believable than a big brand statement? Does a high production value equate with corporate spin? I am certainly a fan of the human-scale, animated message. (See the ‘SustainaFOODability’ video done by Unicycle Creative for Left Coast Naturals) Yet, as the Guardian put it in a recent article, “Sustainability isn’t something soft and cuddly that executives do to salve their consciences. It’s about managing the non-financial risks to your business and firming up your future competitiveness and resilience.” Does the Michelin video communicate that facet of the issue?

As always, I’m curious. What do you think of the warmer, smaller-scale approach for larger brands – is it… ‘Sizewashing?’

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