BT, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Unilever launch Collectively site

BT, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Unilever launch Collectively site

Screenshot of Collectively site

A global group of companies led by BT Group, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola Co., Marks & Spencer and Unilever believes mainstream media coverage of sustainable consumer lifestyles is too subdued.

So they're teaming up with non-profit Forum for the Future to create their own dialogue in the form of a new site, called Collectively, targeted predominantly at millennials. Its mission: expose the most sustainable options and innovations from the worlds of fashion, food, design, architecture and technology, among other things.

"We're interested in talking to younger people, explicitly," said Collectively CEO Will Gardner. "We want to engage them in making sustainable living the new normal. They are showing signs of leading the way."

The plan for the site took shape at the World Economic Forum, when the five companies realized they shared a common goal: an interest in accelerating demand for green products and services.

Asked why this can't be accomplished through existing sites focused on green products or environmental coverage, Gardner and one of the site's sponsors pointed to the need to reach a broader audience that has yet to make up their minds but that could become a powerful voice.

"Our intent is not to reinvent the wheel," said Jeff Seabright, chief sustainability officer for Unilever (who held a similar position at Coca-Cola when the initiative got under way). "We just feel this is a real opportunity to create something where the sum is great than the parts."

The original sponsors were joined by 29 other companies prior to today's launch, including Audi, C&A Foundation, Diageo, Facebook, General Mills, Google, Havas, IPG, Johnson & Johnson, Kingfisher, Lenovo, McDonald's, Medialink, Microsoft, Nestle, Nike, OmniCom, PepsiCo, Philips, SABMiller, Salesforce, Dow Chemical, Twitter and WPP.

The site was designed by VICE Media's creative division, VIRTUE, along with Forum for the Future and Purpose, experienced in developing social campaigns.

Collectively will encourage readers to take action, whether that's by buying a sustainably designed and sourced product, investing in a company that has embedded triple bottom-line principles into its overall strategy, or campaigning via social media for causes they support.

Gardner said the content will be produced by an independent editorial team, although the sponsors will be able to pitch stories for consideration. Contributions will be judged on their ability to inspire positive change. "We hope to engage and ignite a whole level of excitement," Seabright said.

The move comes slightly less than two years after The New York Times abandoned its Green blog and disbanded its environmental reporting team. While the newspaper positioned the move as a way to mainstream this coverage, bringing it to a broader audience, coverage of key issues such as climate change dropped noticeably in the months following that decision.