Waste Management is not in the garbage-hauling business, thank you very much. It’s actually an environmental services company. That’s the brand-bending message contained in the $25-30 million a year the company spends on print and TV ads. To reinforce its message, the New York Times report, the ads highlight:
“… the amount of energy it generates from burning trash each year (enough to power one million homes), the amount of acreage it has set aside for wildlife habitats (more than 17,000 acres), the number of trees it has saved by recycling paper (41 million last year). It printed some of those facts on the sides of its trucks — all of which are now painted green, of course.”
From a marketing standpoint, the company has its work cut out for it. Not only must it overcome a Tony Soprano-style image, there are still memories of those embarrassing Enron-style accounting strategies it employed in the 1990s. And WM’s target audience is about as fuzzy as they come: influencers:
“(They’re) the people who attend public hearings about landfill expansions, who try to have recycling legislation enacted, who lobby their churches or municipalities or school districts to be customers of “green” companies.”
Now the company is pushing its message beyond TV to the Internet. It’s buying ads on several leading newspaper sites including the NY Times, and is negotiating with broadcast and cable stations to put links to its site on their Web pages.
The broad reach and accessibility of the Internet is important, said a company spokesman, because “our goal is no longer just to educate, but to also create a preference for our company over our rivals.”
Sounds like marketing to me…