Earth Day puts word out

Earth Day Canada has adopted an aggressive marketing strategy to communicate to Canadians the importance of being environmentally-responsible.Formed in 1990, Earth Day Canada is the national co-ordinating body for Earth Day events across the country.A not-for-profit charity, it is a charter...

Earth Day Canada has adopted an aggressive marketing strategy to communicate to Canadians the importance of being environmentally-responsible.

Formed in 1990, Earth Day Canada is the national co-ordinating body for Earth Day events across the country.

A not-for-profit charity, it is a charter member of Earth Day International, which was born over two decades ago and currently represents 91 member nations.

In order to get its environmental message out to Canadians, Earth Day Canada has teamed up a small group of advertising professionals in Toronto, who started an agency called Market-works in Jan., 1992 solely for the purpose of developing speculative Earth Day marketing programs.

The co-founders of Market-works, which has status as Earth Day Canada’s agency-of-record, are Jean-Francois (Jef) Germain and Mike McRae.

Germain has a background in licensing children’s products and developing children’s tv programming. McRae is a copywriter.

Earth Day has no marketing budget to speak of, so Market-works works entirely on the assumption that the awareness and fundraising programs it develops will eventually generate money.

‘Basically, we survive from the proceeds of projects created for Earth Day,’ says Germain.

To date, the agency has completed only a handful of smaller programs, but it has 16 projects, large and small, in development, most of which are designed specifically to promote participation in Earth Day.

Earth Day is celebrated every April 22 by Earth Day International member organizations around the world.

Earth Day projects currently being developed by Market-works include: a fund-raising program called the Green Ribbon Campaign wherein companies and organizations will be encouraged to raise money for tree planting by selling green ribbons to staff and customers; and a sponsorship package, Earth Day 199TREE Grass Roots, giving corporations the chance to have their names associated with Earth Day’s tree planting initiatives.

After only three years of promoting Earth Day in Canada, the event’s organizers have managed to attract tremendous good will for their cause.

Unlike environmental groups such as Greenpeace, which purposely lock horns with polluters in highly publicized battles of will, Earth Day’s approach is to be non-confrontational and non-political.

Robin Jones Martin, Earth Day’s executive director, says some 300 grassroots environmental groups are affiliated with Earth Day in one way or another.

Martin, who explains Earth Day’s message is that individuals must get involved, says about 2 million Canadians participate in Earth Day and Earth Week events, including virtually every school child in the country.

In addition to creating programs for Earth Day as part of its agency-of-record status, Market-works also has a second focus as a licensing agency.

Germain says he plans to develop licensing opportunities for Earth Day, such as an Earth Day clothing line and Earth Day tv programming, that will generate a profit for both the charity and the agency.

‘We intend to create a position for ourselves in the environmental market,’ says Germain, explaining he hopes to take on more clients and develop Market-works into a full-service agency.

‘We’re not environmentalists who chain ourselves to smoke-stacks, although we think the opposite of environmentalism is stupidity,’ he says.

‘We think that from the work we’re doing for Earth Day, we have developed an expertise in environmental matters that we can offer to companies.’