BfG News Issue 4 - Expert View: Consumer Empowerment and the Digital Influence

04 Sep 2007|Added Value

Each month News invites an expert to give us their view on a topical issue. This month, we asked Ben Stewart, Head of Media at Greenpeace to share how using online campaigns has led to consumer empowerment for change in business practice.

“Despite what one energy company may think, you can’t stick a vicar on a church roof next to some solar panels, buy ad space and claim you’re green. Campaigners and consumers soon see through it, and corporations will be found out.

The Greenpeace Green Electronics campaign against toxic e-waste in computers and electronic equipment has highlighted and affected policy change by some of the biggest names in the technology business. The biggest success so far has been courtesy of ‘Green my Apple‘, which gave AppleMac consumers the opportunity to voice their opinions in a creative way by mimicking the design of the Apple website. Thousands of consumers took the opportunity to question how Apple could be so bad on recycling by using our creative web tools to drive awareness of the issue.

A similar shift is underway with our sustainable seafood challenge to the UK’s major supermarkets to remove endangered fish species from their shelves. This consumer driven campaign has led to improvements in policies from corporate giants like ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. In fact, in both these areas more results have been achieved by engaging directly with the companies than through lobbying the politicians who are supposedly responsible for regulating them.

These are significant developments, and the only explanation for them is the obvious one – it’s commercial suicide to ignore your customers’ wishes.

We believe it’s vital to open a channel of communication between environmentalists and industry, to showcase positive, economically and environmentally sustainable solutions and to encourage open debate and dialogue.

Our campaigns are no longer just the domain of the niche activist and businesses need to be aware of the on-line community which is enabling mainstream consumers the power to affect ethical policy change within corporations. “

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