“Marketing the Planet”
Howard E. Woodin ES Colloquium – Terry Kellogg ’94
By Otto Nagengast ‘17
In 2002, two successful businessmen and devoted environmentalists, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, founded 1% for the Planet. The rationale for the initiative was simple: use business as an engine of positive environmental change. Companies who join the organization commit to giving one percent of their sales directly to environmental non-profits.
From 21 partner companies in 2002 to 1200 today, 1% Percent for the Planet has become a leader in the environmental movement. In the 12 years since its inception, 1% has raised over $100 million for environmental non-profits, and the organization predicts that it will raise $24 million in this year alone. Terry Kellogg joined 1% in 2005 and is now Chief Impact Officer. On Thursday, April 3, Terry came to Middlebury to share the behind-the-scenes story of the success of 1% for the Planet.
Terry began by giving the brutal truth about the environmental movement in the US. The total amount of money that goes towards environmental causes in this country is only 0.02 percent of the economy. Along with limited funding, the environmental movement faces a host of other challenges such as: low awareness of environmental problems, few solutions to those problems, and lack of clear leadership. However, according to Terry, these challenges are not insurmountable.
Terry cited numerous reasons for hope including: increasing collaboration, the empowerment of many individuals to take action, and, most of all, innovation. Terry has been so successful because he is always willing to adapt.
He gave an example. Several years ago, Coca-Cola partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to launch a new project called Coke Arctic Home. The aim of the project was to preserve the polar bear’s dwindling artic habitat. Terry was skeptical. He felt that that the impact of the initiative would fall short of its ambitious aims. Part of the project was a special line of Coke cans that advertised Coke Arctic Home in order to raise awareness. The organization monitored public opinion about the arctic using 70 metrics, and they found that the initiative ultimately moved public perception about the arctic seven percent. In other words, around 23 million more Americans became concerned about the arctic because of the Coke Arctic Home initiative.
Terry was stunned. He realized that 1% for the Planet had to adopt a new approach. Instead of harnessing merely businesses’ revenues to help the environment, 1% could harness a business’ name. Now, companies can make product-level commitments to fulfill their promise of ‘one percent’ for the environment by incorporating environmental causes into their products.
1% has been successful because they have come to learn their audience, and, thus, how to engage their audience. 1% has moved from a rational to an emotional tone of message, appealing to people’s hearts instead of their minds. Also, instead of scaring their audience into caring about the environment using daunting images of environmental degradation, 1% now reaches out to people using positive messages of hope, humor, and love.
Many believe that the preservation of the environment is the single greatest challenge for us today. Terry fully understands this, and he works passionately and humbly to find the best way to harness the power of business to create positive environmental change. But he is also aware of the enormity and complexity of the issue, as well as his limited role in addressing it. Terry concluded his talk with a quote from Rabbi Tarfon that reveals a great deal about Terry’s perspective on his role in preserving the environment: “You are not expected to complete the task, neither are you allowed to put it down.”