So you’re running an ethical agency. A criminal organisation posing as a listed company – let’s call them Belgian Australian Tobacco – approaches you.
“We fund an ‘anti-smoking education programme’ along with some of our other friends. But the challenge is that it’s not as easy to find us on the web as it is lung cancer charities. We need your help to rank better.”
The programme, as it says on the tin, is to educate people against smoking.
Do you take the business? Critically, \*how\* do you decide?
I paint it cynically, but there are many companies who are net detractors from society and environment, but who nonetheless undertake some positive initiatives.
Would you work with them on their greenwashing / socialwashing projects which do deliver some good? Surely those anti-smoking charities are doing some good? Like the betting-control charities funded by the bookies?
I thought it would be interesting to dive into the nuance in this detailed conversation of the Karmic Capitalist podcast with the founder of “Positive Digital Marketing Agency” Climbing Trees.
Climbing Trees do NOT work with tobacco companies. In fact, they list the sectors they won’t engage with.
This was a really down to earth nuts-and-bolts chat with founder and CEO Alex Holliman. In his words, which I love, Climbing Trees is focussing on working with “companies that the world of tomorrow needs”.
And that’s a virtuous cycle by definition if you do it well. You work in industries and with companies who you believe have a positive role to play in creating a better tomorrow. And if you’re right, not only will they grow, but you’ll play a part in that growth, and create more successful businesses that you can work with tomorrow.
He’s been on a journey of building purpose and values into the core of his agency, and that’s surfaced a number of areas which they’ve explicitly tackled to continually make a better company. For their team, for their customers and for society and environment.
It’s a really interesting journey and discussion. We dive into intent and mechanics – how he’s been addressing diversity, client selection, strategy. And the impact it’s been having on culture as well as business model.
And the ultimate question for client work…
“Does it feel good?”
Listen in – it’s a great story, and Alex shares some very tangible learnings they’ve had along the way.
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