Why does green branding work?
With natural media we have identified a new space within the media industry. Before CURB existed, green marketing and communication was limited to the message itself. No one thought about the medium, how it could be innovative and green in its own right and work alongside the message.
There are huge numbers of reasons why it works, including its significant viral potential, and the fact that it's new. We all tune ourselves out to traditional forms of advertising. We would argue that offline and outside the experiential field (where we also do a lot of work) there is nothing better than natural media at cutting through the clutter and stopping people in their tracks.
Where do you see this concept going?
The market for brands wanting to advertise green products and services globally is only going to grow over the next decade. As the perception of green becomes more and more important to the purchase decision of consumers, businesses worldwide will start to produce more products that cater to this need, as well as look for ways to market themselves appropriately. This means that any potential means of effectively delivering a green message will become invaluable to advertisers.
How did you come up with the idea for CURB Media?
At the beginning of 2008, I was having a pint and packet of peanuts with my girlfriend outside our London local. We saw a bus drive pass with a giant billboard advertising a green product. In jest I said to her: "I wonder how many trees had to die to tell us that green message." She responded with: "Well, how else are you going to advertise?" That got me thinking, I couldn't believe there wasn't a more engaging and greener way in which communicate. While I was thinking about it I started arranging the peanuts into a question mark and, just as I finished, I realised there was an answer staring me in the face. Why not use nature like peanuts, moss, mud and sand to advertise? With that light bulb moment the idea of natural media was created and you could say that CURB is the first business truly founded on peanuts!
What were the challenges getting it started?
Without a doubt the key challenges were educating the market as to what could be done with nature and more importantly the return on investment you could achieve.
What does the future hold?
We are now in a privileged position where CURB gets to work with some of the coolest brands in the world, doing advertising and media campaigns that consumers love. How many people can actually say they sell sand to the Arabs for a living (which we are now doing with the launch of CURB UAE) and make money from moss and rain water? Brands and agencies are just beginning to understand the power of what we do, its viral potential and how natural media as a category should not be ignored within any global media plan.
Are there any opportunities for graduates at CURB Media?
Yes, we take interns. At CURB, the whole culture is entrepreneurial and with every intern that comes in they always leave with a rounded education of how and what it can take to make it in this hugely challenging industry. It makes me incredibly proud to say that this culture helps people grow and really achieve amazing things. Ry Morgan is a brilliant example of this. His initiative and innovation played a key part in creating a campaign that generated over 160,000 hits to our website in one day and ultimately brought us Johnson & Johnson as a client.
Ry Morgan is in his final year at the University of St Andrews, studying for an MA in management. Last year he did an internship at CURB Media.
How did you come to do an internship at CURB Media?
I found it through a website called enternships.com which is all about work placements for students in SMEs. My interests had always been in entrepreneurship and small business development so the concept of an enternship was appealing to me. CURB appeared to be a small organisation but were doing huge things with the clients they were working with. After submitting my application Anthony, the founder of CURB Media, got in touch and after a few calls, I managed to get a placement with them, which was great.
What appealed to you about the company?
Just looking through their website I got an idea of what CURB were all about and what they aspire to achieve. CURB are unique and after reading up on them and speaking to Anthony, I found that the approach of the company matched what I want to pursue in business.
How would you describe that approach?
CURB Media aim to provide services that are environmentally friendly and completely sustainable to the world. Nothing they do harms the environment. This includes "clean advertising", which involves using rain or sea water to "clean" logos and brands onto street pavements. In addition to this, for every "clean advertisement" CURB do, they plant a tree. CURB also create crop circle advertisings and construct sand sculptures of logos or even the product itself. They've done a life-size Mini Cooper, for example. CURB also "snow tag" brands and logos into snow by imprinting them and create "moss art" which uses the plant to make living billboards.
And what sort of things did you do for CURB Media and these clients?
I had the chance to contribute to the website, adding the latest news of our work and pictures, and getting their email newsletter off the ground, something they hadn't done before. I also handled some of their social media such as their Twitter profile and setting up their Facebook page. In addition to this, I handled calls within the office, attending clients meetings and created the artwork of various campaigns, which were used by Cancer Research UK and Waitrose to name a few.
One of the things I'm most proud about is creating a new form of natural media, called Glowfungi, which uses harmless bio-luminescent bacteria to create bespoke designs that illuminate in the dark. At the beginning of my internship, CURB had set me the challenge of coming up with a new type of green advertising, which I'm very pleased I managed to do. Glowfungi managed to generate over 600,000 hits to their website within a week because it featured on other websites such as trendhunter.com and springwise.com. To have a positive impact was very rewarding.