Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Comment on the White Cashmere Collection

Deborah Weinstein, President of Strategic Objectives, a public relations agency whose clients include Kruger Products that manufacturers Cashmere bathroom tissue, recently emailed me a response to my Toilet Paper Fashion Campaign Soft on Recycling post. In it I used humour to talk about logic issues with Kruger’s White Cashmere campaign. Deb gave me permission to post her response on my blog:

“The White Cashmere Collection was first created back in 2004 and features beautiful, original Cashmere BT Couture crafted by Canada's top fashion design talent. Eighty seven designers have participated to date.

Far from a waste of paper, used only once and thrown away, these works of art are treasured: carefully curated, preserved and protected for display, exhibits, shows, photography etc. They are featured in books, on TV and throughout the traditional and social media and online as a unique expression of beauty and hope.

You would Not tell a painter they are wasting paper that should be thrown in the blue bin for recycling, or flushed down the round one, once it's been used. Cashmere BT Couture deserves and gets the same respect.

The White Cashmere Collection is a heartfelt expression of Fashion with Compassion created to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's vision (and mine and presumably yours), of a future without breast Cancer.

The collection has helped @cbcf, Canadian consumers and Kruger Products raise much-needed awareness and millions of dollars to help women and families cope with the disease, and help find a cure.

I understand you are skeptical of pink fundraising, but your attack on Cashmere as a waste of paper is deeply disturbing and disheartening given the facts.”

Here is my response:

Hi Deb,

Kruger used excessive bathroom tissue in its campaign; the Cashmere campaign didn’t explain that the bathroom tissue used is recycled or how (or if) the dresses are preserved; the campaign didn’t disclose the amount of tissue used (especially important to disclose if the amount of tissue used is much less than it looks to help reassure your environmentally conscious public). The absence of this information and the excessive use of bathroom tissue undermines Kruger's commitment to the environment. I found it amusing that the campaign did not address these issues and apparently didn’t consider the impression this would likely leave on environmentally conscious consumers. That’s why I wrote the post. That’s why I made jokes. I can't be the only one thinking that the White Cashmere campaign used too much paper and that this is not good for the environment.

I’m analyzing this strategy from a public relations perspective. I don’t see the logic of using excessive tissue (per dress, several dresses per year) in a campaign while Kruger claims to support the environment, specifically sustainable forestry and recycling. I do not regret addressing this paradox, or finding amusement in it.

Why not include your key messaging about your environmental commitment in all campaigns? Surely you want your public to be aware of your commitment to recycling and sustainable forestry and to take it seriously. To me, the campaign achieved the opposite effect.

On Twitter, your colleague Andrew F. Stewart suggested that I am insensitive to the cause (after I shared my distaste for a Tweet he wrote about Whitney Houston's addiction and death), including your Twitter handle (For those unfamiliar with Twitter, Andrew did this to send his Tweet to Deb, with a link to my White Cashmere post, introducing her to it):


I am trying to understand the logic. Am I insensitive to the cause of breast cancer because I asked questions about the logic of this campaign and addressed environmental issues? Because I used silly humour? Should a campaign be immune from criticism, questions and concerns about the company’s environmental commitment because it does work for breast cancer and the fashion industry and fosters the production of art?

Yes, I am skeptical of pink fundraising, but that’s not what my post was about or why I wrote it.

Thank you for your response.

Note: I am not suggesting Kruger has been untruthful about its work for the environment. I recognize the environmental and public relations benefits of campaigns creatively reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded, but I don't feel the White Cashmere campaign applies because of its excessive use of tissue.

7 comments :

  1. You missed the point of our conversation yet again. I fear it will take a few more years or at least one full one in our profession, and a greater understanding of how brands work with NGO's, to expand your understanding of this issue.

    Best of luck to you!

    Andrew

    RIP Whitney.

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  2. Anonymous (Andrew) - Feel free to elaborate. It is unclear to me what point I "missed."

    I wrote this post as an environmentally conscious consumer, not as a PR person who lacks "at least one full year in our profession." The campaign and the issues I raised in my post made me question Kruger's commitment to the environment. Because of that and the failure to address my environmental concerns in the initial campaign and in responses to my post, I am unlikely to purchase Cashmere bathroom tissue paper or any other Kruger Product. My readers may feel the same. If that is not a public relations issue, I don't know what is.

    Perhaps my belief that a business should fully support and fully promote its environmental values is idealistic. Perhaps a lot of brands just don't work that way. Perhaps in business there are more important interests between many brands and NGOs than logical campaigns and environmental accountability.

    Or maybe I just "missed the point" again. Maybe I'm just too green.

    I hope that by the time I reach your level of public relations experience, I will have maintained my social and environmental integrity. I am a consumer before a PR practitioner. It will be tough, but I am confident I can be a successful PR practitioner without compromising my ethics and logic.

    Thank you for wishing me good luck.

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  3. Their focus is on art, breast cancer, and promotion.

    Your focus is on the very real, very important issue of the environment.

    And never the two shall meet.

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  4. Lynda - It definitely seems that way.
    Not sure why.

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  5. "Maybe I'm just too green." Not sure if you intended the pun there, but it was bloody brilliant. I see exactly where you're coming from. Just because a company touts a "noble" flag does not make it immune from scrutiny.

    And anonymous commenters are spineless cowards.

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  6. A Beer - I'm glad you noticed my pun and thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you "get" it.

    To be fair, I bet Andrew probably used the "Anonymous" option because he didn't know he could use "Name/URL" without including a URL. He included his name, but his tone would have given him away if he hadn't.

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  7. what an interesting read.....we all care (simple concept) nothing gets done!! ans so on, and so on!!

    ReplyDelete