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One of the first ad campaigns I wrote, as a freshly hired advertising agency copywriter in the mid-1980s, was for Hain Pure Foods. It was deemed a success, and I went on to write more Hain ads, brochures, and even product packaging and point-of-purchase. In doing so, I played a small, ongoing part in the brand's successful expansion from health food stores into mainstream supermarkets. What great education for a green ad writer! I also was a copywriter on creative projects for Zond, one of the first alternative energy companies in California. So I developed ideas and copy selling cogeneration equipment, wind farms, and (relatively) clean power generating facility design and construction services.
In the 30 years since, I've been the copywriter or creative director on ad campaigns, brochures, and marketing materials for natural food brands, sustainable building materials, and manufacturers of non-toxic paints and environmentally friendly household products. I've written consumer ads and trade ads. I've devised brand names for new green products, and been deeply involved in the brand development of start-up and spin-off green enterprises.
Here are some companies that have used me as their copywriter.
Adventure 16 independent retailer of hard-core outdoor gear
AFM non-toxic exterior and interior paints
Balance Energy a division of BAE Systems involved in green energy microgrids
Ferraro's Fine Juices premium fresh juices and juice blends
GlenOaks Farms all-natural drinkable yogurt
GreenbioWood environmentally friendly, sustainable real wood flooring
Hain Pure Foods all-natural packaged foods including crackers, soups, oils, and salad dressings
SDG&E/Sempra Energy renewable energy and conservation
Simple Green non-toxic household cleaners
Zond wind power and on-site cogeneration facility equipment, design, construction, and management
And here are a few writing samples.
GreenbioWood: a product line brochure for sustainable wood flooring targeting both trade and consumer markets, with a touch of environmental advocacy.
GreenbioWood: a B2B marketing binder that included product sample decks, specifically targeting architects, designers, and green builders.
Balance Energy: a B2B/B2G brochure for green energy microgrids (distributed generation), targeting utilities and municipalities.
I've also written ads, brochures, mailers, sales kits, product packages, trade show booths, and other marketing materials for a whole passel of innovative, eco-friendly businesses, from green pest control companies to makers of all-natural pet treats.
Along the way, I've learned a few things.
First, the best intentions on Earth won't sell a lousy product. Potential customers care more about how good your product tastes, looks, or works than how good it is for the planet. So that's what your ads should talk about first and foremost.
Second, it pays to make noise. The smaller your budget, the smarter and more-focused your marketing must be to break through. Look: You don't just want people to buy your product. You want to change their worldview so they keep buying your product, and urge others to do the same. That's hard. And it means your advertising has to be evangelical. Maybe even confrontational. And, as much as possible, a radical departure from business-as-usual.
Third, the most underestimated, unexpected way to change the world is to change the rules by which the world works. The great thing is that today's media choices afford ample opportunity for exactly the kind of intimate engagement that can kindle, then fan, the flames of brand regime change.
Fourth, the difference between green marketing and greenwashing comes down to one inviolable tenet: Truth.
If you've got a green product, and you're ready to blow your category through the roof, let's talk about creating ads, brochures, social media campaigns, and other marketing programs that'll help you achieve liftoff. Email me at or call me at (619) 465-6100. And let the revolution begin!
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Free (yes, free) advertising copywriting resources
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Long John Silver on writing ads
More career advice: whats it like being an advertising copywriter?
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Napoleons advice to entrepreneurs, Part II: the entrepreneurial character
Napoleons advice to entrepreneurs, Part III: growing the enterprise
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The economy (and what to do about it)
When you should consider hiring a freelance copywriter
Advertising copywriting mentorship
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Phone and fax: (619) 465-6100
John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
6877 Barker Way
San Diego, California
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