Brands as Sustainability Activists?

I have had the recent privilege and thrill of participating in the planning and implementation of a sustainability brand action with our client, Fazer Bakeries: the launch of Fazer Cricket Bread, the first of its kind in the world.

This was not purely the launch of a new bread variant for the commercial market, but an action taken in response to the urgent global need to find alternative and sustainable sources of protein. Crickets were introduced to the Finnish public in an easily approachable way: ground into flour and baked into an age-old staple of the Finnish diet, bread. This experience got me thinking about sustainability in ways I hadn’t done before. While touting one’s sustainable practises seems to be the trend of the moment, many of us consumers are sceptical about sustainability claims. There’s a lot of greenwashing going on out there, a lot of claims which seem solely commercially motivated, claims made in order to sell more product.

What sustainable means is also unclear to many of us: a big S word with fuzzy and somewhat depressing connotations. Is it about climate change? About minimizing the use of plastics? About responsible sourcing and ethical labor practices? About managing one’s corporate reputation instead of truly wanting to make a difference? In Finland, companies typically share their sustainability credentials as a section in their annual review, in a corporate press release, or as a report tucked away on their website, which few members of the broader public probably ever reads – and to be quite honest, are not always too interested in either.  

Is it time to bring sustainability out of the closet, so to speak? Give it words and contexts, which are easier to understand and relate to? Can it be about more than formal corporate messages published for those who might seek it out? Can we take visible actions, which engage and inspire people? Can we make it exciting, and while we’re at it, make a real impact on the world outside our own operations and profit margins?

I really believe we can. I think brands are uniquely placed to have a positive impact on how we live and the choices we make. And I think marketing has a unique and empowering role to play in building brands, which act as positive change agents in the world and get noticed: case Fazer Cricket Bread.

Wishing you all a wonderful summer and a little time to think about this!

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