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BP and Franchising

At first glance, the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the explosion of Deepwater Horizon seems to have nothing to do with franchising. But any franchise trying to bill themselves as a ‘green business’ can learn a lot from PR disaster that BP have created for themselves by flaunting their green credentials.

I remember when BP first tried their green marketing approach a few years ago. I was living in New Jersey, where having a car is essential. When I saw a gas station marketing themselves as the eco-friendly option, I was a bit surprised. Surely, there is nothing eco-friendly driving an automobile 50 miles a day, as I did in those days. I wasn’t completely fooled, but I know I went to BP stations a few times with the thought in mind that it might be a better option than their competitors.

The shocking scale of the disaster in the Gulf has forever contradicted BP’s image as an ‘eco-friendly’ brand. Entrepreneur has penned an insightful piece for their August issue that tells it straight to other businesses: the landscape for green businesses has changed. To claim to be a green business requires more than using 40 watt light-bulbs or keeping the lights off in your business overnight. Being a green business means being a business that looks at the environmentally-friendly option in every possible place.

That creates a lots of challenges for entrepreneurs.

"Being green in and of itself isn't a differentiator except with a small group of consumers," says Joel Makower, executive editor of and author of Strategies for the Green Economy, told the magazine. "Green succeeds only to the extent that it means better--it's cheaper to buy, it operates better, it lasts longer, it's cooler for my image. People do want to do the right thing, but they don't want to go out of their way to do that. They love 'change' when it's a noun; they hate it when it's a verb."

The story does mention the Pedals To Property franchise which we had blogged about earlier this year. That’s a green franchise that’s true to its word.

If anything, the BP spill is firming the idea in many consumers’ minds that green is the way to go. Some cynics are amused that it is the ‘eco-friendly’ gas giant that is responsible for one of the largest oil spills ever. BP, and all businesses and franchises, should now know that if you’re claiming to be a green business, you better mean it.

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