Friday, September 26, 2008

Sustainability Seen as Competitive Advantage Key

Sustainability may be a 14 letter, six syllable off-putting word, but it can be fun as well as profitable for any corporation that commits to sustainability as a way of doing business, according to Judah Schiller, today’s breakfast speaker at the California Bar Association meeting (at right following his talk). 

A no-longer-practicing attorney, Schiller (whose business card is about three-quarter size) is executive vice-president of Saatchi & Saatchi S, a consultancy within the international advertising agency. S stands for you know what, and to hear Schiller tell it, any business without a sustainability officer is losing its competitive advantage.

Schiller’s been called “corporate America’s go-to greening guy” and is in demand for his success stories in working with major corporations to help them infuse sustainability in their operations. Another focus of Saatchi & Saatchi S are individual consumers who can be motivated to make better choices among the vast array of products available to them.

Hawaii as Client?

Corporate employees who commit to a Personal Sustainability Project can transform themselves while supporting their companies, said Schiller. Wal-Mart’s 1.5 million employees collectively have 200,000 pounds of weight loss among them, as well as 19,000 former smokers thanks to personal commitments to enhance their own sustainability.

During the Q&A, we noted that Hawaii has fewer citizens than Wal-Mart has employees and asked if Saatchi & Saatchi S has ever taken on an entire state as a client. Schiller said it was an interesting question (Ad Man Translation: sounds like a good idea) and mentioned the Tennessee Valley Authority and the City of Chicago as government entities his firm has supported.

With its economy headed into the tank, Hawaii could use some help from a global advertising/sustainability agency. Schiller’s speaking schedule suggests he has more than a few frequent flyer miles to chew through. Given some background on Hawaii’s potential to be a renewable energy and sustainability model (see Blue Planet Foundation), maybe he’ll use them to check us out. “Saatchi & Saatchi S Honolulu” has a nice ring to it.

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