Monday, October 6, 2008

Stella’s World: From Green to True Blue

At Saatchi & Saatchi we’re changing color - from Green to True Blue. The shift was sparked when Adam Werbach (Adam is CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S) announced the Birth of Blue to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The idea, in brief, is that we need to unleash the creativity and imagination of the global public if we are going to overcome the challenges our planet faces.

What does Blue mean to us as individuals? That we all have to commit, and commit quickly to leaving a smaller footprint on our planet. Even the most diehard conservative who won’t accept that polar bears are having to swim where they once walked, knows that something is changing. It may be temporary (you won’t get my vote for that one) or it may be permanent or we may have ventured past some planetary tipping point, but which ever way it plays out, most of us agree we each need to get serious, get involved and start changing. Fast.

Up to now most people have looked at the future in silos. People who were passionate about forests, oceans and the creatures we share this place with, identified as environmentalists. People and the cities they mostly live in were a problem to be lectured and criticised. I respect this purity and focus – and seeing a bird with its wings glued with viscous oil is a challenge to anyone’s sense of environmental balance – but it does not offer solutions at the scale of the challenges we face.

When I look at my granddaughter Stella, the future immediately races into the present. What can feel abstract and distant (and frankly not a priority) becomes specific and personal. I might not be there, but she will be. Stella’s ability to live in harmony with her world will be as much about her as the place she grows up in. We’ve all got to work on that new sense of harmony but I believe that if we can create a state of flow between people and the planet, we’ll get much further much faster than lecturing and criticizing each other. This is at the heart of what I call True Blue which is inspired the idea that we can make the world a better place one person at a time.

Don’t get me wrong, Green is still fundamentally important but to many people green means choosing the environment over everything else. Blue means you don’t have to choose. As Adam reminds us, “We want to keep the parts of green that have brought us change and innovation, but let go of the narrowness. Blue builds on the foundation that green has laid but lets go of its baggage”.

Without the will of the people at our backs, nothing will be achieved. Here are my first thoughts on the key differences between Green and Blue.

Next Monday I will start working through these differences and look at how Blue can help make the world a better place for everyone.


Pi said...

Shu KR, I really do not see the need to take on GREEN just to get what is (even with all its good intention and worthwhile ideas) a commercial venture a bit more support.

Yes I do clearly see that you are doing the 'comparison' in a soft way, but why do so at all? There really is no point in going off on a tangent and trying to improve GREEN. Your BLUE efforts and how you are trying to out do GREEN leaves me with a really bad taste in my mouth. Your positive comments that you are complimenting what GREEN has already done do not go unnoticed. BLUE smacks of commercialism to me though.

This time I think you have done way too much work in an area that needs support, growth(always room for improvement),but not a reinvention.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

Based on the words in the columns, you've identified Green as being passive whereas Blue is the active approach to change.

From my experience in Japan, I think that an entire generation of people can take a more active approach in sustaining our planet. And without being labelled "treehuggers" or "activists". Every single family I ran into and heard about was gung-ho about recycling. Everything from cleaning and breaking down milk cartons, to composting and breaking down cans. Families encouraged their kids to do this, and over the years very strong habits were passed on. In the streets there is recycling everywhere, and the vending machines have attached recycling bins for the drinks you may buy from them.

I think this Blue approach already exists in certain parts of the world, but a stronger, more responsible initiative must be taken for more people to adapt to it.

Anonymous said...

Earth is called the blue planet, so blue is cool. Now I can't resist thinking that it took several decades of hard work to get people around the world to make peiple to start to "think green", make them "think blue" shouldn't create a confusion in their mind. But, looking at the list of notions in the "blue list", I wonder if they could not be the goal for the "green list" to eveolve to. Green is the "Brand" of the right human behavior for the future of mankind, and Brand evolve through time to expand, we should "reposition" green so it becomes what you state in your blue list.
Jean Manuel

Vandy Massedy said...

I like the 'blue' approach. Blue allows us to see the positive side of the problem (opportunity instead of obligation) as well as being a call to be personally accountable.

While its great to think that the business of protecting our environment is somebody else's responsibility (i.e. big business and government) - the reality is that it's down to each and every one of us. How much use is a company green policy if employees dump litter all over the place in their personal time? In fact, do employees think, "Its OK for me to litter because I work for a company that looks after the environment." The good doesn't cancel out the bad in this instance and we need to be clear that we aren't using corporate policies as an excuse for a sloppy personal attitude on the issues.

We need to combine a top-down and a bottom-up approach to ensure everyone is accountable.

In some respects I think its as simple as extending the care you take of your own home, to the rest of the environment you live in.

On that basis, I really like the "What can I do?" approach.

Hunter said...

Green means 'respect' while Blue means 'Love'?

Where, oh where, does this meaning come from? Certainly not from any genuine cultural, etymological, semantic or symbolic root.

The genuine associations with Green have grown over time as a 'grass roots' movement has emerged, fought and become recognised.

This is a corporation trying to fabricate a new movement with no clear mandate for so doing.

Best of luck! said...

Unbelievable. A PR consultant trying to hijack the most important issue facing humankind today. The man who brought us 'lovemarks' is now attempting to re-brand (and claim future ownership of)a worldwide movement that has only in the last 10-15 years gained some palpable international mass traction. Has'lovemarks' suddenly developed a conscience? Where was this so-called 'blue' thinking 20 years ago when it would have been devastatingly original? All of the concepts he puts forward as 'blue' have been around for years, if not decades.
People like Paul Hawken, Maibritt Pedersen Zari, Micheal Braungart, Ted Nordhaus, Brude Mau, Alice Waters and dozens of other truly inspirational 'green' thinkers and leaders I could name have already covered the idea of motivating people to 're-think the way we make/ do things'. The old 3 Rs of sustainability are not the complete answer. We know that. It is a wonderful start but is only going to buy us time until we can come up with a viable alternative and fundamentally different way to occupy our planet.
Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have Mr. Roberts on board the 'green' movement but his solution is simplistic at best and potentially harmful at worst. Very briefly I would highlight just one of his 'categories': Organisational vs. Personal. Organisational change needs to occur in a more integrated vertical way rather than the outmoded horizontal duality espoused by Mr. Roberts. Personal change is critical but must happen alongside and intertwined with organisational change. They will not survive in oppostion to each other as implied here. Once again it is lovely to have a man of Mr. Roberts reputation thinking this way but he might want to do a wee bit of research before he comes up with more thoughts out of the 'blue'

Kevin Roberts said...

Vandy, absolutely right. Blue is a way for more people to ask themselves “What can I do?” As a radical optimist, I always think we can be doing better. Making it personal opens up more opportunity, more optimism, and more action.