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Che Guevara

  Clorox Green Works
Walking the Talk
by Sheila Shayon
October 15, 2010

The Clorox-owned Green Works line is now the #1 brand in America for natural cleaning, and it’s aiming to live up to its reputation one green footprint at a time.

In honor of International Walk to School Month this month, Clorox Green Works is sponsoring a Walk to School Challenge for elementary and middle school students and their families in the U.S. Clorox is leveraging social media to spread the word, taking sign-ups on its Facebook page where the public is being invited to enter for a chance to win one of five $5,000 grants for their school, just by walking or bicycling to school.


Timed to coincide with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move anti-obesity campaign goal of "60 minutes of active and vigorous play every day to grow up to a healthy weight," Green Works is helping to promote active alternatives to the sedentary lifestyles that threaten Americans of all ages, especially kids.

The overall goal of the Green Works campaign is to promote kids and families adopting healthier lifestyles, with the eco-friendly byproduct of reducing air pollution by promoting walking over driving to school. The Facebook app awards consumers additional points for sharing healthy lifestyle tips and updating friends and families on daily progress.

Green Works also ran advertorials in September magazines and is partnering with the Sierra Club on the initiative. David Kargas, senior group manager of public relations at Clorox, spoke to brandchannel about the campaign.

BC: How did the walk you coordinated in New York City go?

DK: 13 years ago, there was just one International Walk to School Day. Now there are many, many walks and we coordinated a walk in New York City, featuring celebrity mom Jennie Garth. We did this to kick off the Green Works Walk to School Challenge and get people excited about the opportunity to take part in this effort.

How many participants are involved?

DK: Right now we have over 500 schools signed up across the country. More are coming on every day. The winners will be determined at the end of the month based on their schools walking efforts. With three weeks left to go, we anticipate that the leader board will change dramatically.

What’s the number of ‘green points’ calculated so far?

Right now, the leading school has nearly 20,000 Green Points – pretty impressive for (the first) week. As a reminder, your school gets 100 Green Prints for every family that walks to school on a given day. In addition, your school can get 25 more if you post your status on Facebook, 50 more for sharing a Green Tip and 15 more for completing a quiz.

I understand that the Mr. Youth agency created the Facebook and social media elements. What is unique or outstanding about what they created?

Mr. Youth did a great job of infusing an element of fun into the application. They really understand social media and worked to develop an application that can engage both parents and kids in the challenge. For example, families can “unlock” ribbons and prizes by taking part in the walk. The prizes are a great way to gets kids excited about staying involved in the challenge.

How important is the social media app as a platform for UGC?

User-generated content isn’t a major part of this effort. As we discussed the Walk to School Challenge with parents and schools, we heard from a lot of people that they aren’t always comfortable with sharing photos and videos of their children in a public venue. We respect that sensitivity and decided not to make that sort of sharing a part of our Challenge.

What eco-friendly initiatives are planned besides a new playground?

We worked with our partners at the Sierra Club to help develop a list of potential uses for the Green Grants that the winning schools can receive, but we don’t want to be prescriptive on this.

Part of the beauty of Walk to School Month is that there are so many great reasons to take part — from family time, to exercise to the environment. Every individual has their own reason for taking part. Similarly, with the Green Works Walk to School Challenge, we want to leave it to individual communities to determine what’s the best use of the Green Grants.

Has Clorox’s Facebook page jumped in terms of followers? Hit 100,000 yet?

Our followers are growing every day. We haven’t hit 100,000 yet (note: it had passed 97,000 followers at press-time) but we anticipate we will soon. Beyond that, we are seeing a great level of engagement in this program. So many of the people who sign up are using our sharing tools to spread the word and get other people in their community to join the challenge.

“Inspiring advocacy has always been at the heart of the Green Works brand,” according to your press release. Can you elaborate?

In the naturally-derived products category, the most powerful influencers are the people you know. Green Works users often hear about our products from a friend who was searching for natural solutions, gave Green Works a try and was impressed with the product. As many of our users are parents of young children, we know that these people are asking their friends for advice and sharing solutions every day. To the greatest extent possible, we try to be part of those conversations.

I also understand this campaign is one of the largest social media efforts for Green Works to date, and the brand hopes to build its green positioning by showing how certain habits contribute to a healthy, natural lifestyle. How do you propose to do that?

Green Works users are interested in taking simple steps to a healthier, more natural life. For many of these people, naturally derived cleaning products are part of that plan. But they aren’t the only step. With the Green Works Walk to School Challenge we are supporting the kind of activity that is part of a person’s efforts to lead a more natural lifestyle. In the future, we’ll continue to help support those simple steps to a more natural life.

Does Green Works now outsell traditional Clorox cleaning products?

Naturally-derived cleaning products are a niche, but they are niche that is growing quickly. The growth of naturally-derived cleaners depends on two factors: performance and price. If a natural product performs as well as a conventional product and is priced competitively, people will give it a try.

Providing products that work as well as conventional cleaners at competitive prices has been our focus since we launched Green Works naturally-derived cleaners. We know that if we continue to deliver on those two points, we’ll see strong growth. To that end, we recently reduced our price across our entire Green Works line, including a $3 decrease on our Green Works naturally derived laundry detergent.

What’s been the biggest surprise and challenge in launching Green Works?

The biggest challenge was, and still is, convincing people that naturally derived products perform at the levels they expect. People aren’t willing to compromise on product performance. That said, when we can show them that our products perform as well as the products they are used to, people want to give Green Works naturally derived cleaners a try. When price and performance are equivalent with conventional products, people will opt for a naturally derived option.

Was it an easy sell-in with consumers, or were they weaned off traditional cleaners by conscience and marketing?

Again, for consumers it comes down to two things: Price and performance. When our pricing is right and people trust that the products perform up to their expectations, people are very eager to give naturally derived cleaners a try. To that end, snce we launched Green Works, the category for naturally derived cleaners has more than doubled.

Will all Clorox products be green someday?

We are certainly working towards that goal. We made sustainability improvements to one third of our portfolio between 2005 and 2009. We’ve set a goal to make improvements to another 25 percent of our portfolio by 2013. This means improvements to more than 300 products. We are one of only a few consumer packaged goods companies to have set such a public goal.


Sheila Shayon is a senior media executive with 25+ years in television and new media including expertise in programming, production, broadband, start-up models, creative and branding strategies, digital content and social networking. Shayon has worked for HBO, Time Warner Cable and Wisdom Television. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication. Currently, as President/Founder of Third Eye Media, a New York-based multimedia production company, Shayon works with online brands to combine editorial content and social networking applications.

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