B Corps Get Ready for Close-Up with First Ad Campaign

B Corps Get Ready for Close-Up with First Ad Campaign

B Labs kicked off a $1 million national advertising campaign this week to introduce to consumers the hundreds of U.S. companies certified to its sustainable business standard.

The marketing campaign running through the end of 2011 will feature dozens of certified B Corporations in print and online ads. Their message: "Better Companies Make Better Products. B Corps are Better Companies."

Since its launch three years ago, the number of B Corporations has multiplied with companies large and small, including recognized brands Method, Seventh Generation and Numi Organic Tea. This prompted many to call for an organized effort to raise public awareness, according to Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, the nonprofit that created the B Impact Rating System and certifies companies to the standard.

"With 350 companies across about 60 industries, they felt like the community was large enough, that it was time to introduce the community to the public," Gilbert said. "We're really responding to the requests from the B Corps."

The campaign aims to reach 17 million consumers and show them how to make the vast array of B Corps' products and services a part of their everyday lives. A website hosting the campaign also offers consumers a deeper look at what makes each company a B Corp. The B stands for public benefit, and B Corps must legally factor into their business decisions the interests of workers, community, suppliers and the environment, in addition to meeting minimum performance standards in these areas.

Visitors to the website can click on a B Corp to see a product or company ad with stats backing up its performance, or a link to its B Corps Impact report. Gilbert pointed to Better World Books as an example of a company proving it possible to turn a profit while also enriching the community. The ad for the Georgia-based company explains that 64 percent of employees hold ownership, and more than a quarter work in low-income communities.

"It's a pretty cool story of a company that is venture-backed and growing significantly in the middle of a recession," Gilbert said, adding that the company has raised $8 million for literacy and library campaigns and added 91 jobs during the economic downturn.

B Labs is acting as general contractor for the ad campaign but the various media partners, including Sustainable Industries and Ogden Publications, are also donating resources, pushing its value to roughly $1 million.

"We're paying for the creative development and production, but without support from our media partners, no one would ever see these ads," Gilbert said. "Those different media partners have donated the ads space, and they themselves are certified B Corps. They've put their resources at the disposal of the community in order to give the community the ability to project its voice to consumers."