Few things get me as riled as seeing brands that could make (and back up) a bold green claim in their marketing, but for some reason decide not to do so. I have two cases in point – advertisers that have all the ammunition they need to tell a compelling story but leave it unfired. My usual caveat is that I am not intending to sling rocks at any particular agency or group, and believe me, I know it’s easier to criticize than create. But the green marketing movement needs better. So here goes:

BC Tree Fruits “There’s something in the water, soil and sunshine” newspaper ad.

The re-branding of this iconic BC institution is, for the most part, excellently done. The line ‘Way more than Delicious’ has great depth and promises an apple advantage that is more than skin deep (sorry). And the packaging is beautiful, with its use of authentic archival imagery. (A depiction which may ignore some more recent issues around imported picker labourers…. but that’s a whole other topic)

But the ad I saw in my local Vancouver Courier really left a bitter taste on my green palate. It wasn’t the design; this was tastefully done. It wasn’t the use of local grower Lindsay Hainstock from Osoyoos; I always appreciate knowing there are real people behind a brand. No, it was the hackneyed ‘it’s-so-beautiful-and-sunny-here-in-the-Okanagan-that-our-products-must-be-good-too!’ approach that left me rolling my eyes. Likewise in the radio spot.

BC Tree Friuots Tasteful PackagingThe Green Briefs Two-Bits: Come on, BCTF. Make the concept live up to this beautiful design. Here are two strategic starter directions right from your artfully-redesigned website:

1) BC Tree Fruits is a true co-operative: the growers own the packing houses, BC Tree Fruits Limited and their associated assets.
2) Over 800 Okanagan Valley families own BC Tree Fruits. Folks who every day put everything they have into tending their orchards.

If that’s not enough, there are the host of advantages to buying local, from supporting strong standards for food quality to keeping your dollars in the Province to helping create a more secure food system. Anything would be better than ‘Okanagan Sunshine!!’

Okay, I’m over it now. Like I said, for the most part a beautifully redesigned brand. But a bit more flesh on that core idea would go a long way.

University of Northern British Columbia – Canada’s Green University™

By trademarking such a bold phrase, UNBC opens the door to closer scrutiny. But this SkyTrain poster does little to engage my imagination. “1st with Harvard” leaps out, but means little. Winning an award is not as important as what you win an award for. Once I visit their website and do a little digging, I find out that the reason for the award was UNBC’s Bioenergy Project that uses local forest fuels, (either in the form of wood pellets or residue from sawmill operations) to heat buildings and provide hot water on campus. Hello!! There are so many angles to this story, from playing off the campus’ cold northern location in Prince George to the more complex story of promoting a technology that could be a savior for BC’s forest industry, I hardly know where to start. And with all the smartphones I saw on that SkyTrain platform, a more intriguing web call-to-action would have been well rewarded.

The Green Briefs Two-Bits: Use some of your University smarts to educate the public, UNBC. And who cares about Harvard??

So what do you think? Did I pick it right or does my review bite? Comments, please.

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