TreeHugger is the “hip” in the “hippy”. Rather than bombard the masses with the unpalatable, guilt-ridden message of most conservation activists, TreeHugger succeeds because it appeals to the consumer in all of us.
Graham states, “99.9% of us are not going to wear loincloths and live in a commune. They are going to continue to buy things, so why not have them buy good things?”
At the turn of the century, global warming and issues on the environment have become a familiar part of our daily lives. People have become aware of their environment, searching for organic material, hybrid cars, and eco-friendly material. However, with the rise of information on being eco-friendly and protective of our environment, it seems we only read and see these information, rather then taking them into action with our daily lives. How do we then make a small step towards changing our daily lifestyles so that it fits this new “green” phase?
Solution: TreeHugger.com. A green site for all users, from the extremists to the casual Internet browser, TreeHugger has become the foremost source for all things green. Developed back in 2004 by Graham Hill, TreeHugger was created in hopes of spreading the ideas of living green and making it a popular social zeitgeist, as Hill wanted to “make green much more aspirational and much more convenient” for everybody. After creating mock advertisements in a Photoshop class featuring hip-looking “treehugger” models, he wanted to prove that an Average Joe could “be a modern city dweller and still care about the environment.”
Even from the first glance of the main page, the site presents a hip, easily-accessible menu of topics in which to delve, and displays the latest posts, in a reverse chronological manner, by the TreeHugger staff. Offering “green” information ranging from cars to culture and celebrity, not only does the site provide new information on what products to buy to go green, but they also provide educational insight on why its necessary for a green lifestyle. You can find information on which green desk to buy or which computer is the greenist to buy; the site is overloaded with product information that can change your lifestyle into a green one. Especially with the holidays coming up, TreeHugger has provided users with the green gift list, showing users what they can buy for their loved ones, while still going green.
Alternatively, show off your love for TreeHugger and buy yourself a shirt. While the site has been considered the most popular source for environmental news, as well as the 16th most popular blog on the web, TreeHugger has become a hotspot for consumers, providing valuable green product information. When Hill first created TreeHugger, he displayed various sustainable items that were both trendy and friendly to the Earth. People became interested in the products he displayed because they didn’t necessarily scream “SAVE THE PLANET,” as many an environmental conservative prefers to do. Mike Kisch applauds Hill for appealing to our innate consumerism, avoiding preaches of “wearing hemp clothing” and instead encouraging us to reduce “the footprint that humans leave on the planet earth.” By attracting the interest of buyers looking to be in-style with the savvy products, TreeHugger welcomes them with open arms and in return, gains their interests on deeper levels, thus drawing their attention to the bigger, more environmental matters at hand.
Hill had many companies temporarily sponsor the site, but he wanted the “perfect partner with a sizeable, international audience, a kindred brand and a high level commitment philosophically and financially to green,” which he saw in Discovery Communications. Discovery bought TreeHugger in August 2007 for a rumored $10 million, in efforts to make the site one of its many technological branches of communication to the public. “TreeHugger.com is a strategic complement to our digital media portfolio, aligning perfectly with Discovery’s corporate values and the Planet Green initiative,” Bruce Campbell, Discovery Communications’ president of Digital Media, Emerging Networks and Business Development, said in a joint statement. “Bringing TreeHugger.com into the Discovery family gives it the resources to continue doing what it does best: bringing green living to the masses.” As part of their relationship, Discovery co-signed $50 million to TreeHugger in building it to be an even more go-to source for all things green, while TreeHugger.com in return assisted in Discovery’s innovative Planet Green, which would be the first 24/7 eco-lifestyle channel. With this collaboration, both Discovery and TreeHugger are able to reach an even wider audience by combining the two, consumers and TV watchers, all the while educating them with eco-friendly tactics and news.
While TreeHugger initially gains interest with its aesthetically-pleasing, eco-friendly products, it builds a foundation with its users, altering their intentions from consumerism to conservationism. Graham Hill was smart in first appealing to the eye, then to the mind- TreeHugger is the infinitely known as the go-to site for anything green-related, and functions much like both an eco-friendly CNN and a sustainable-product catalog.
The day consumerism dies is the day TreeHugger will have to find a different marketing approach– luckily, that day doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the near future.