Manager,North American Brand Communications & Advertising
Organization: Steelcase, Inc. (www.steelcase.com)
BRAD: In February 2008 we decided to kick off a U.S. campaign that we called, “GreenGiants”. It consisted of a series of events and initiatives that culminated in a website: www.BeAGreenGiant.com. This campaign (one of the largest in recent Steelcase history) intentionally put our own marketing messages on the back burner. From the onset, this campaign wasn’t going to be centered around us. Our approach to advertising sustainability, had to mirror our approach to sustainability.
- We wanted to elevate the conversation beyond simply being “green”.
- The campaign says, “Sustainable environments begin with sustainable communities” – that’s been our company’s approach to sustainability since the beginning – a holistic approach that considers people and the planet.
- We believe that the social component (helping people) is critical when talking about and doing sustainable initiatives. We believe that social component is the difference between just being “green” and being a “GreenGiant”.
So GreenGiants don’t really need to be “giants” at all… it’s anyone that believes in or is practicing a broader approach to sustainability – one that considers people and the planet. And we believe that’s a message that resonated with people – as far away as India and other guests to the site from 116 countries.
CELESTE: What were the goals of the campaign?
BRAD: The campaign had three goals:
1) To educate others by providing comprehensive resources and information on sustainability,
2) Inspire others through stories of great works of sustainability and
3) Provide a platform for others to celebrate sustainable acts that have inspired them (friends, themselves, organizations, companies, projects, etc.) – elevating their visibility and giving them a global stage from which to share.
GreenGiants has been a rally cry within the corporation and has taken on deeper cultural significance than we could have imagined. Employees have committed to being GreenGiants and are looking for ways (big and small) that they can personally make a difference.
CELESTE: What does Steelcase specialize in?
BRAD: Steelcase, the global leader in the office furniture industry, helps people have a better work experience by providing products, services and insights into the ways people work. The company designs and manufactures architecture, furniture and technology products. Founded in 1912 and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Steelcase (NYSE:SCS) serves customers through a network of over 600 independent dealers and approximately 13,500 employees worldwide. Fiscal 2008 revenue was $3.4 billion.
You can’t pick up a magazine or a newspaper these days and not see a company touting how “green” they are or celebrating their environmental achievements. And that’s a good thing, because it’s a sign that companies are starting to recognize the importance of being more environmentally conscious. The bad thing, is that a lot of companies don’t take the time or make the investment to do the things that really matter – choosing, instead, to celebrate small achievements for self-promotion.
At Steelcase, you could say sustainability is in our DNA, dating all the way back to our founding family members. We’ve been helping the environment and the people that live in that environment for many, many years. We’ve done that and continue to do it, because it was important to us… it’s one of our company’s core values.