SunChips green hotness: what it really takes to earn eco-credentials ~ Brand Mix

Monday, April 20, 2009

SunChips green hotness: what it really takes to earn eco-credentials

Earth Day is just around the corner, a can't-miss opportunity for more and more companies to talk about their green credentials. But if everyone is doing it, as Landor's Allen Adamson points out in the WSJ and USA Today, how can anyone stand out from the crowd?

If there's one brand that does deserve to be in the limelight, it must be SunChips which has gone way beyond a single day tie-in. It has made a commitment to the environment the core idea for its brand. Here are some of the things that it has done:

1) Its name: Perhaps someone from the brand can confirm this for me but I believe that the brand name SunChips pre-dates any specific commitment to the environment. So call this a lucky break but the name provides a connection between the brand and its eco-friendly activities that others don't have. It makes its green activities make sense.

2) Its products: Are all (relatively) healthy. So there's no inconsistency between what you're eating and what they are saying about the environment. Healthy inside and out.

2) Its manufacturing process: Back in 2007, I posted that Frito-Lay was planning to create an eco-friendly chip by taking its Casa Grande plant in Arizona off the power grid, running it on renewable fuels and recycled water. And, yes, this is the plant where SunChips are made. SunChips are made by solar energy. It can't get much better than that.

3) Compostable packaging: But now, with the name, product and manufacturing process all in place, the brand team is off to the races. What to green light next? So, for this Earth Day, SunChips has announced that it will rollout compostable packaging. This ad below shows a time lapse of how the 100% biodegradable bag decomposes in 14 weeks. It's a first for the industry:

4) Marketing: They've not forgotten about marketing either. This new ad links to the which talk about a competition launched in partnership with National Geographic to support the best green ideas.

It's the whole package from manufacturing all the way through to sales and marketing that gives SunChips eco-credentials almost impossible for competitors to match. As a branding guy, I just have to root for SunChips to be successful (even though I don't actually like the chips all that much myself). I sure hope that lots of people buy the new packages. Otherwise, it's going to be one hell of a mess in the stores.


Gannon Jones said...

Martin - a huge thank your for your comments. Our entire SunChips team is very proud to be playing a role in the environmental movement.

To answer one of your questions, the name of the brand does pre-date any green strategies (it was first launched in 1991)..although I agree that today it does look like exceptional foresight.

We do believe that what we're doing will translate to business growth, but equally important is our belief that it's the right thing to do. Thanks again.

Gannon Jones
VP, Marketing Frito Lay

Denise Lee Yohn said...

i agree with you, martin!

i remember being so struck by the authenticity of the sunchips' green efforts when wal-mart featured the brand in its ground-breaking "earth month" ads last year, i wrote an article about the campaign for brandweek -- in the past year, the business has taken even more steps in the right direction -- glad to see the brand team isn't resting on their laurels -- instead they're getting better by doing better!

Martin Bishop said...

@Gannon: You're welcome and thanks for the clarification. Congrats on a great, new initiative with your packaging.

If you come out with Jalepeno-flavored chips, I'm going to buy them!

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