With climate anxiety on the rise, particularly among younger generations, it shouldn't be surprising that one brand picked President Trump's State of the Union address to deliver its message on the issue. Seventh Generation's 60-second SOTU ad featured a clip from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's State of the Union address of January 7, 1943 with current footage of children marching for the climate. "The people have now gathered their strength," FDR proclaims, as images of young people displaying bold messages like "There is no planet B" flash across the screen. "They are moving forward in their might and power," the voice continues, and then "They see before them the hope of the world."
Unlike its past commercials, which have featured its household cleaning and paper products, in the "Believe in a Seventh Generation" ad the company is using its advertising budget strictly to call for action against global warming.
Why right after the State of the Union?
"We feel there cannot be a strong State of the Union without a discussion of the State of the Planet as well," says Hanneke Willenborg, Chief Marketing Officer at Seventh Generation. "It's the most important issue of our time."
Seventh Generation, a Unilever brand, wants to get the word out about its name: a reference to an Iroquois principle that decisions should be made taking into account sustaining people's livelihoods all the way to seven generations in the future.
Willenborg says by taking a stand on climate the company hopes to raise awareness and change consumer behavior, which dovetails nicely with the brand's ability to sell more of its biodegradable and recycled products. The company's target audience is millennials with small children, and 40% of its sales already come from this demographic. That group, which in Seventh Generation speak is known as "mindful progressives," is expected to become more and more passionate about sustainable consumer choices with the wellbeing of future generations in mind.
Indeed, many brands are noticing that sustainability is key to conquering the hearts and minds of younger consumer groups and millennial employees. The trend is accelerating and companies want to get on board.
Is taking a stand on the environment political? Willenborg says no. "It's not a partisan issue," she says. "When the Titanic is going down, it doesn't matter if you're wearing a blue shirt, or a red shirt." Or any shirt at all.