Tag Archives: Apple

The Best Running Shoes Come From The Ocean

Adidas Parley UltraBoost

It could get busy around here.

The polarising struggle to argue out the sustainable consumption oxymoron often misses the point. Consuming more sustainably than we have done before has to be part of the real world incremental improvement process whilst we scramble for the step-change improvements that are really needed. Yes, that may very well not be quick enough to avoid catastrophic environmental change for many of ‘us’, but we are where we are, this is what we have, pragmatism has its uses and credit to those who are trying. Many aren’t.

Last week we saw Apple throwing its marketing nous behind Earth Day, this week we see Adidas (there is no alphabetical component here) upping its sustainability commitments and profile including ‘one million pairs of shoes made from up-cycled marine plastic in 2017.’

One million. Many people have little to no idea or the vaguest concept of the scale of industrial production, but such big numbers should make you sit up. One million pairs of running shoes made from up-cycled plastic has to be progress. Say it with a Dr Evil pinky finger to your mouth, I dare you.

Every second breath we take is generated by the Oceans,” commented Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans.

We are now into the territory beyond climate denial but not quite mainstream consumerism (i.e. purchasing dictated by sustainability criteria). Yet. Apple, adidas and many other leadership companies are exploring key themes such as the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals and momentum is building week after week. Expect to see many more innovative products and processes conveyor belted out as the market is tested for acceptance.

Companies like Interface and their work in a similar vein to Adidas’ partnership with Parley with Net-Works are also even possibly more worthy of praise as they were way ahead of the pack, but alas, carpet tiles have yet to become a dominant brand category in your face 24/7 in the way the usual suspect consumer brands have.

For disclosure. I adore my adidas UltraBOOST running shoes. For many, many years I had always shown a strong brand affinity for Nike (whom I even worked as a football freestyler and tester of prototype football boots in my non-linear career story) or Asics for great running shoes and avoided Adidas after a bad experience before the New York marathon. I explored a pair when setting out to train for my first ironman distance triathlon 18 months ago (and survived in surprisingly good shape), and instantly fell in love with the astonishing levels of comfort for a performance running shoe.

Worth noting is how the bigger consumer facing brands are increasingly pushing out high profile product and communications. We are past tipping points now and heading into consistent mass market positioning rather than the niche deep green audiences of not so long ago. I hate to admit it, but this could get boring as sustainability innovation today becomes the norm of tomorrow.

For the brand lovers and runners out there check out the shoes and vote with your wallets for a great product now combined with great provenance. You could also check out www.adidas.com/runfortheoceans as week of support around World Oceans Day, June 5 -11.

For the sustainability people, and activists wanting to look beyond the communications frontage, adidas also shared their latest Sustainability Report.

*Oh, and if anybody at Adidas or any of their close friends should read this, and need a UltraBOOST size 9 product tester, I’m your man!

 

 

 

Apple’s Greatest Video?

Credit where credit is due.

I’ve roasted Apple (should that be baked?) many times, especially during the Steve Jobs era, but I had a feeling that Tim Cook would take a very different approach to sustainability. His supply chain background almost dictated it.

So, without further ado, here is Apple’s latest effort to use its brand for good, and that matters. It really matters. Watch the videos and then read why it meant so much to me.

 

Not your usual Apple slick, minimalistic, polished marketing advert!

Apple were the epitome of laggards, hiding away from disclosure or action whilst they focused on selling as many of their beautiful innovative tech toys as possible. Nothing new about that. Countless business still take that approach. Probably most businesses in all honesty.

But, Apple were and are one of the biggest mainstream brands in the world, with the accompanying leadership position that should elevate any authentically responsible business to push sustainability not only through their own operation and products, but also their widest sphere of influence including their customers and fans.

Five years ago I wrote a blog hoping, and predicting Tim Cook’s appointment would be a catalyst for change. Such a change was always going to take time. One tweak here, a new appointment there, a commitment to solar, a video celebrating diversity and now this. (notice I omitted Liam the recycling robot – Apple’s Howard the Duck moment)

The video above feels like a milestone moment because it shows Apple is now comfortable enough to be creative and step away from brand norms – which is very out of character – and bold. We desperately need more bold. The work has been done internally and my new hope is that this video is the start of a confident new leadership brand in the sustainability space, or should that be iSustainability?

The biggest challenge of our time is convincing the non-usual suspects to look at the issues people like me call sustainability in a way possibly only Apple could do, to change behaviour at scale.

Congratulations Tim Cook, Lisa Jackson et al, your mark has been made, but how high can you go?

 

 

Is Liam Really #TechForGood, or #MarketingForApple?

29 arms of recycling innovation robot beautifully presented (of course) and they call it Liam? Only in the world of Apple.

Whilst hastily allowing myself to lose all focus on the writing I should have been doing today I jumped at the chance to join @TomRaftery as guest co-host for his #TechForGood Google Hangout tomorrow. As I explored previous shows to get a feel for my responsibilities I stumbled back across the ‘Liam’ element of Apple’s recent keynote.

The last few weeks have been something of a blur with many new discussions and projects appearing like the Rebel Alliance out of hyperdrive, but all with an eerily connected technology flavour. The Apple announcement was momentarily noted for their strong focus on responsibility at their key communications event of their calendar, before being usurped by the usual social media avalanche.

I’ve been a long standing frustrated critic of Apple, more from a wasted potential perspective than their actual social or environmental accomplishments, which have been markedly improving over recent years. Tim Cook has many achievements to take credit for, as it can’t have been an easy task to push sustainability up the priority list of the culture moulded by Steve Jobs.

Whilst on the day Lisa Jackson (SVP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives) was conspicuously front and centre, and the privacy debate raging with the FBI obviously adding its influence, Liam felt like the physical hook of attention for a more confident responsibility ethos away from the usual line-up of product launches.

Yes, I know there are only so many ways you can innovate with a phone, and this could be Apple running out of innovative product steam, but the eternal optimist in me is seeing Apple want to be seen as more than just a purveyor of beautiful ‘stuff’. That beauty could be creeping into their approach to their wider responsibilities.

Liam is an allegedly, as I’ve not seen many at all, 29 arm robot that can in a mere 11 seconds recycle a notoriously difficult product into component parts like never seen before. I’ve dreamed of Apple applying its design mastery for a stronger purpose than just music and communications. Was this it?

Maybe. Maybe not. After all there is only one Liam, I believe, and at full speed, could disassemble 1.2 million iPhones per year. Actually, only potentially 1.2 million iPhone 6s units until they teach it about the rest of their product back catalogue. That total would be in the billions. Last year alone Apple sold 230 million phones.

Innovative? Absolutely. Open source and shareable by the whole industry to reduce e-waste? Probably not going to happen (but hoping). Expensive? Absolutely and certainly prohibitively so. Chances of Apple opening recycling depots full of Liams? Slim. Marketing gimmick or potential for true impact? Actions speak louder than YouTube videos, so we shall see.

With over 1 billion smartphone products alone sold every year. A few weeks after the launch Liam now feels more like a lonely Disney Wall-E type character, desperate for a real purpose, a few friends and more trees, but I continue to hope.

Join me and Tom tomorrow at 4.00pm UK to explore this week’s #TechForGood news.

 

 

Apple’s Best Advert Yet?

Yes, this is just an employee engagement video, but it’s also an Apple employee engagement video.

I wonder how many customers (and more importantly potential customers) felt that little bit more emotionally connected to a brand that has historically pretty much kept its head below the social and environmental parapet.

“Inclusion inspires innovation”

It is also further evidence of a company becoming being increasingly comfortable being seen in the CSR space. By adding a deeper values element to their brand Apple are on a dangerous trajectory of becoming a truly inspirational operation. It looks like Tim Cook is truly getting his feet under the big table.

That’s two responsibility videos in three months now! Cautious optimism grows.

Oh, and there’s a great soundtrack too.

 

Did Apple Hear Me?

 

Hi folks. It’s been a while. Life got busy without asking first.

More posts and more updates to come soon, and I was trying to get the foundations of the change done before posting again, but I just couldn’t resist, and here’s why, something important is getting ‘Better’…

 

 

For those new to these parts, I’ve had a love hate relationship with Apple as long as I’ve been involved in the world of CSR. Beautiful design and killer marketing has constantly torn at my belief that Apple was one of the most guilty by avoidance in the wider responsible business agenda. I’ve written a few times and one of the most recent (before the barren spell) was just after Tim Cook took the CEO mantle and offered hope to those who desperately dreamed for a new all-star athlete in the CSR team.

Back in February 2012 with ‘Apple’s Ethical Watershed‘ I dared to suggest that Tim Cook would provide an optimistic leadership style borne out of his supply chain background and obviously different personality to his predecessor Steve Jobs, and it’s looking I could have been right.

I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, this video is further evidence of internal changes of ethos and the continuation of previous signs of a greener leadership and a new brand positioning campaign. iCSR could be on the way!

The fact that Apple is actively talking green could be the start of something big, very big.

 

What Do Premier League Football And Apple Have In Common?

New report says UK football CSR is maturing but needs to train harder and play as a team.

The defences are well and truly warmed up at Cupertino at the moment ahead of the iPhone 5 launch event next week but Daniel Agger isn’t part of the team.

Both brands have an almost religious like appeal to their audiences. Huge queues for product, tattoos and media saturation are just a couple of examples of the more obvious cultural similarities.

Both brands also have long journeys ahead of them on the CSR road and neither showing signs of ticking the leadership box any time soon.

I’ve just finished reading “It’s Not Just A Game: Community Work In The UK Football Industry And Approaches To Corporate Social Responsibility” by Heledd Jenkins and Laura James from the ESRC Centre at BRASS.

If you are into football, sport and all things CSR / sustainability go and take a read. It’s a comprehensive, intelligent and open report that provides a useful stick in the ground for the current state of social responsibility in UK football.

In short, all the clubs deliver effective community work locally with some reaching further afield across international boundaries, many through independent Community Trust models, but fall short on embedded strategic approaches, innovation, leadership and transparency. Continue reading

Apple’s Ethical Watershed?

A window of opportunity and an open letter to CEO Tim Cook.

Is it me or is the current focus on Apple’s supply chain a different tune than we’ve heard before?

For years now many from responsible business community have rumbled in frustration at Apple’s lack of commitment and often blatant avoidance of sustainability issues.  Most of these professionals have ironically also either converted to Apple Macbooks / iPhones / iPad or continued their use throughout the regular ethical issues arising. I go to a few industry conferences and they’re often more like a Halloween orchard with the amount of glowing Apple logos on show.

Let’s be honest Apple products look damn good, mostly do the job you’d expect and you can’t argue with the almost religion-like power of the brand they’ve created under the stewardship of the recently departed Steve Jobs. For full disclosure I was once an Apple fan, during my days producing copious amounts writing, media materials and marketing documents at Everton FC, before I knew better about the details of the business operation and products themselves.  I adored their fanatical ethos about providing the most simple, usable interface which is pure beauty at times, especially compared to Windows Vista and earlier incarnations. I had the usual file format sharing problems but that was nearly ten years ago and much has changed.

I am beginning to sense the sustainability sharks circling. Continue reading