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Rival corporate giants join forces to get millennials acting on climate change

 

Pepsi & Coca-Cola Cans

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have set aside a long standing rivalry and joined forced along with 24 other corporate giants to engage young people on climate change issues. Photograph: David Levene/the Guardian

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Rival corporate giants join forces to get millennials acting on climate change” was written by Jo Confino, for theguardian.com on Monday 6th October 2014 23.01 UTC

 

A coalition of otherwise rival global corporations on Tuesday will announce they have jointly created a digital platform for young people to take action against climate change.

Many of the 29 partners behind Collectively.org are fierce competitors – such as drinks giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, consumer goods companies Unilever and Nestle, and global advertising groups WPP and Omnicom – but they have set aside their differences in a bid to engage and activate so-called millennials between the ages of 18 and 30.

In order to have maximum impact on social media, Facebook, Google and Twitter are partners on the project, which will focus on “passion points” such as innovations in fashion, food, design and technology and avoid the depressing consequences of inaction such as animal extinction, pollution and deforestation.

The approach is based on the idea that doom and gloom stories fail to inspire change. “Every single day, the most creative minds in the world are thinking, designing, testing, building and launching awe-inspiring new solutions to help us thrive,” according to Collectively.

“Collectively will connect millennials to the innovations that are shaping the future, making it easy for them to act, buy, invest and promote the ideas that they believe in. To be part of the solution.”

Finding common ground

The initiative breaks the corporate mould in several ways that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.

It sends a strong signal that large numbers of multinational companies are increasingly frustrated at the fossil fuel lobby’s stranglehold on the political process, and are prepared to become more involved in pressing for change.

While arch competitors have for many years been collaborating in pre-competitive areas such as the management of their supply chains, the website also represents an increasing willingness to join forces in the public arena.

The companies said that “the pace and scale of what’s required now demands new business models, based on radical collaboration with each other, with NGOs and with consumers”.

Corporations are obsessive about maintaining absolute control over all aspects of their brands, but in this case they have ceded some influence by setting up Collectively as a nonprofit venture. They have also agreed to keep their branding off the website in order not to damage its integrity in the eyes of those young people who may be cynical about the motives of big business.

While the pilot phase of the project will focus on the US and the UK, there are already plans to expand it into a global organisation, with negotiations taking place with businesses in India, China and Brazil by the end of the year, another 20 multinationals around the world are expected to come on board as well as NGOs which focus on engaging with young people.

Young media for a young audience

Another innovation is that rather than creating partnerships with traditional media organisations, Collectively is collaboration with Vice Media as well as Purpose, the creator of movements for social change, and sustainability NGO Forum For the Future.

Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum, said the digital platform would be a welcome antidote to the failure of politicians to act. “Back they come, election after election, with the same old growth-at-all-costs prospectus, with a few green sops thrown in, essentially to keep their own green-ish activists off their backs,” Porritt writes in Guardian Sustainable Business.

“That’s how it’s always been, and pretty much how it is today, which is why so many environmentalists hold the whole damn lot of them in contempt.

“Happily, beyond the grim reality and beyond the limitations of science, lies a very different impulse: unconstrained excitement at the rising surge of brilliant organisations and people already crafting the solutions to today’s converging crises.”

 

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