Home > Environmental Mission Statement, Green, Marketing, Social Media > Audi and Facebook Go for the Green

Audi and Facebook Go for the Green

On June 22, 2009, Audi announced it will donate $1 to The Nature Conservency’s Facebook Cause for each Facebook member who joins the Conservancy’s on-line program. The German auto maker is known for crafting luxury vehicles, not for combining sustainability and social media. Is this green-washing or just a new method for companies to involve the community in their corporate social responsibility programs? I believe it is the later and think Audi and The Nature Conservency have made a wise move.

This all revolves around Audi rolling out its TDI clean diesel in the United States. What folks around the world have know for years, that unleaded gasoline is less efficient and releases more particulate matter into the atmosphere per mile driven, has never really found a place in the American psyche. We equate diesel with working vehicles; from 18 wheelers that carry our goods across the country to bulldozers that move dirt from here to there. We all agree that no matter what a diesel engine does, one thing is for sure: it belches dirty exhaust into our skies and thus must be bad for the planet. Right? Well, sort of….

Diesel engines release more greenhouse gases than unleaded engines; however, diesel engines have become more efficient than their unleaded cousins. In fact, the 15% increase in greenhouse gases produced by a diesel engine actually turns into a 15 – 25% decrease because a diesel engine uses less gas to move itself from point A to point B. So, Audi’s claims that their TDI clean diesel is similar to hybrid cars  and better for the Earth than unleaded engines is true. I don’t see any green-washing here.

As far as developing a partnership with The Natural Conservancy and providing funding through their Facebook Cause is concerned, I think it a fantastic idea. In fact, I think Audi is one of the first of what will be many companies that join Facebook Causes. Based on my own searching, they appear to the be only car company associated with a Facebook cause. And they choose one of the best respected environmental advocacy and action groups in the world with which to work. For over half a century The Nature Conservancy has worked hard to preserve our planet. To date they have protected 119 million acres of land and 5000 miles of rivers across the globe.

I have heard that Audi capping its donation at $25,000 is proof of its less than sincere commitment to the planet. I believe that the $25,000 is symbolic, a way to drum up support for its TDI system in America as well as an opportunity to explore the new world of social media marketing. The current facts are clear:  a TDI diesel engine is cleaner than a standard unleaded engine.

And now that Audi and The Nature Conservancy have partnered for a green cause using Facebook, I predict that corporate relationships with environmental advocacy organizations which use the ever growing network of social media will become a staple of the sustainability movement. I look forward to watching as this latest chapter in corporate social responsibility is written.

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