Social Media

These days, when one thinks about clean energy, solar and wind power most likely come to mind first while geothermal and wave power may not be too far behind.

However, the other growing source of clean energy that is plentiful, available and producing jobs is Biomass Energy. Right now its proponents are working hard towards making the industry a major player in the clean energy sector.

Until recently, the emerging biomass industry has been somewhat below the radar in the public realm. One may ask why the mass media hasn’t promoted biomass as a major renewable energy source as they certainly have done when showcasing solar and wind energy.

Recently, Science Creative contacted Richard Madeira, Vice President of Enginuity Energy in Pennsylvania. He offers an explaination, “One reason may be that biomass fuels just aren’t sexy and the sector itself isn’t as well organized as the others. However, once people sit down and learn the facts, they always say – ‘Wow’!”


After a slow start into the first six months of 2010, solar energy is on the rise – at least on Wall Street.

According to a recent Barron’s article, the solar industry in general is on a more firm foundation than the Street generally believes.

Could there also be something else at work that has raised the profile of solar energy as a viable and mainstream clean energy alternative?

With the ongoing environmental and economic disaster of the Gulf oil spill, solar energy has quickly moved back into the global conversation about energy options. Look no further than the World Cup.

In our June 12th article about the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the record numbers of viewers around the globe, we pointed to Yingli Solar, a leading solar energy company, as an up-and-coming advertiser who recognized the branding and strategic opportunity of the World Cup to introduce the company and brand with on-field advertising. After investing $20 million for 64 games and gaining worldwide exposure in TV, online and mobile audiences, the six-year old company now has the eye of a major investor.

As reported in The New York Times, “The World Cup is a fantastic platform to get our name out,” according to Robert Petrina, managing director for the Yingli Green Energy Americas division of Yingli who likened the growing interest in soccer in the United States to the growing interest in sources of renewable energy like solar panels.

Our company is well known in the industry we’re in and has grown to be one of the best-known brands in the space. But to move to the global stage is a massive step. The decision was made with the input of all the various offices around the world,” he added, which include Madrid, Munich and Rome — located in three soccer-mad nations, it should be noted.

Over 64 games, the $20 million investment equates to $312,500 per game. Considering that FIFA officials expect to exceed a cumulative 26 billion people, an average of approximately 400 million viewers per match, and factoring the additional online and mobile audiences, both the company and solar energy industry gained exposure. For Yingli, the investment has already achieved even more with a commitment of $5.3 billion to expand its manufacturing operations.


Recently, the marketing departments in a few savvy companies have quietly been adding social media positions that didn’t even exist a few short years ago. From small start-up companies to large corporations, the social media expert has now become a highly sought after employee (or team) to engage the online/mobile customer. The marketing function now includes systems and processes to accommodate the rapidly growing two-way conversations that are taking place with the customer. In many cases it’s become a vital path to ensuring the company’s brand stays intact in the eyes of the consumer as well as being an effective marketing channel.

The July/Aug 2010 Harvard Business Review states “these days anyone with a smart phone, [iPad] or a computer can inflict lasting brand damage.” That’s because consumers have quickly become well informed and eager to use the online forum to speak out where they will be seen by thousands (and potentially millions) of people who may be easily swayed.

The same HBR article provided a pertinent example about how “popular mommy blogger Heather Armstrong was so upset over the failure of her Maytag washer and the company’s ensuing service missteps that, using her mobile phone, she told her million-plus followers on Twitter they should never buy a Maytag.” Science Creative also reported in our article that “today’s social media moms rule the social web withFacebook, Twitter, MySpace, Bebo, FriendFeed and more” – and they have the ability to make a difference with the way a company conducts its business and how it treats its customers.


As mentioned in my previous post on Eco-Friendly packaging, the question was asked, “how can we develop the most cost effective packaging solutions that will fit into the design, marketing and functional needs?” Well, a big part of that equation comes in the form of plastic. Plastic has been great for consumers and without a doubt, has allowed human kind to progress beyond anyone’s predictions.

However, today we are literally choking on the stuff and we need to find alternatives and more ways to recycle and reuse ASAP.

In this post we will provide examples of some businesses currently recycling conventional plastics as well as those who now using, or are beginning to explore, biodegradable plastic as an alternative. In addition, there are those who advocate a shift in the way we do business which may also be a part of the answer to realizing new business models that are profitable and environmentally responsible.


The 2010 FIFA World Cup has arrived and practically the whole world is watching – and what they’re seeing is some very well placed on-field advertising. These high-res digital boards circumvent two thirds of the field in view of the television cameras and change every minute or so to reveal another of the official World Cup sponsors.

Considering that commercial breaks are infrequent during the match, these highly visible displays are (in this writer’s opinion) an excellent platform to communicate top-of-mind awareness to a world-wide audience.

World Cup Advertising
Official FIFA partners 2010 World Cup sponsors
adidas Budweiser
Coca Cola Castrol
Emirates Continental Tires
Hyundai/Kia McDonald’s
Sony MTN Wireless


In addition to the official sponsors while watching the Uruguay/France game I couldn’t help but notice some other sponsors on the constantly-changing boards and think these were smart placements. The on-field displays run 30 seconds between each transition and of course the real payoff is when a goal is scored as the replays will go on for ions.

(The English goal tender Robert Green’s now infamous “mistake” will forever show Shanduka Energy [Coca-Cola] in the background.)


For the average consumer going “green” is something they would be in favor of as long as it doesn’t come with an additional cost or is too inconvenient. There is an expectation that in order for consumers to embrace something new it has to be convenient, cost effective and provide them with some kind of immediate benefit.

So what can green energy and green product marketers do to make their case? For solar powered homes the perception is that the cost of entry is far too expensive for most people so they stay connected to the grid and shrug off green power as something that is for big industry to embrace. Much of this is reviewed on

Solar manufacturers such as First Solar and Skyline Solar target commercial, industrial, education and government concerns in sunny areas of the world but what about residential manufacturers?

Manufacturers and installers such as SolarCity, Akeena Solar and Kyocera offer useful information such as rebates and financing to residential customers, but they still have to persuade the average home owner to get past the sticker shock for the upfront costs. Their websites offer all kinds of information on government incentives and seminars – but what they really need is to get the word out and start getting references from satisfied home owners.

From this writers perspective the solar industry, as it pertains to the residential market, is set up as though it’s a hobby for a select group of people who are seeking information and not as a viable industry that is actively engaging and marketing to consumers with the message “Attention homeowner, you NEED Solar Energy and here’s why!”


Toys"R"Us Career website

With many of today’s recruitment tactics of taking the candidates perspective (in order for them to screen themselves in or out), there are several career websites communicating the aspirational and emotional appeal of the job via company culture and employee’s personal ambitions.  The Wall Street Journal states that ” in a recent survey of 2,457 college students and recent graduates, Potentialpark Communications found that the best career sites “go beyond information, and offer inspiration,” appealing to “the emotional decision centers of their visitors.” Potentialpark ranked the sites on the basis of usability, branding, relationship building, application management and recruitment process.”

The work that we are doing at Science Creative seeks to continue the employment branding work we had done for our previous clients such as The Home Depot and Toys”R”Us where we lead the development of candidate focused communications in which the career was more than a job, more than a paycheck – it was a calling.

Image: Toys”R”Us – Aaron Gresham and Ian David

These days with the economy still fragile many HR Managers may be thinking that they have a lock on retaining their top talent because they may be too nervous to even think about looking for a new position. Think again. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, in February 2010, “the number of employees voluntarily quitting surpassed the number being fired or discharged for the first time since October 2008.”

The reasons come down to the perception that the economy is in fact getting better (and for those who held tight during the worst of the recession they’re now ready to bolt), and, according to the WSJ article, is “the effect of the heavy cost-cutting and downsizing during the downturn on workers’ morale.” Executive recruiter, Brett Good, said “employees feel disengaged with their jobs, which is going to lead to a lot of churn as we come out of the recession… they feel like ‘a bird in the hand’ isn’t good enough anymore.”

This just proves that internal branding and communications with employees even during down times still needs to be in effect. When I was working with O2 ideas we developed an employee program for our home building client, Taylor Morrison, that both solicited their input and rewarded them with a vacation. The program (called The Big Idea created by Ian David and Joey Graddy) included a cool downloadable PDF guide and stylish T-shirts that everyone wanted. It was a huge success and helped make the employees feel as though they were part of a company that cared, was fun and where they wanted to be. The program represented an ongoing commitment by Taylor Morrison to engage their employees. It may not have prevented  some employees from eventually leaving but it did a great job of promoting the company as being a fun and rewarding place to work.

So, it’s important for HR Managers to keep in touch with their employees and to continually develop internal communications programs that will engage employees and help keep the pride they have for their employer as well as for their positions.

There are many things that come to mind when the subject of Quick Service Restaurants (aka QSR/Fast Food) comes up. Over the past fifty years the proliferation of QSR locations have flooded the landscape to the point where it has changed our eating habits, our expectations for low price and convenience and of course the way we grow and process our food. These days, the business is as competitive as ever and QSR competitors are searching for new ways to attract and retain customers while others are  trying to deal with ever changing management structure.

When I worked for McDonald’s Corporation as a Regional Marketing Supervisor, in addition to being in the field, I attended Hamburger University and learned a lot about how McDonald’s ran its massive business and was duly impressed with its simple business strategy of owning the land and leasing it to Owner Operators and then charging a rent fee based on the restaurant sales figures. It was a great learning experience to be immersed in corporate America and to be a part of the inner workings of one of the countries most recognized symbols of capitalism. It gave me a unique perspective to view both the positive and negative sides of the QSR business and to focus on what works and avoid what is detrimental to the business, the consumer and the environment.


It’s been several years since tobacco advertising and sponsorship has been banned and along with the expanding bans on smoking in restaurants and bars the means and ways to communicate their brand messages are becoming more clever and indirect.

In the mid-90’s I was in Singapore for a week and couldn’t help but notice that Dunhill was being advertised everywhere – but not the cigarettes, instead Dunhill was in the business of selling luxury goods including watches, luggage and apparel for men. I am not a smoker but couldn’t but help thinking this was a smart marketing decision because not only did Dunhill get to advertise its brand name it also associated itself with an upper class and distinguished class – which is exactly the target audience for the cigarettes. Of course the history of Alfred Dunhill (which is pipes, luxury goods and cigarettes) preceded the ban on tobacco advertising by 100 years but I was unaware of this at the time and wondered why more tobacco companies weren’t diversifying their product offerings in order to circumvent the ban.

More recently the folks at Marlboro have been using bar codes to communicate the brand on Formula 1 race cars. In Fast Company the article shows the before and after pictures of the race car showing the bar code. Although they have since been forced to remove these bar codes it was still an interesting and subversive way to advertise.


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