Earth Day 2019: Allbirds and Audubon
The Painted Redstart, Pygmy Nuthatch, Mountain Bluebird, Allen’s Hummingbird, and Scarlet Tanager. What do all of these birds have in common? They are threatened by climate change, and their names were given to special sneakers created by Allbirds, a disruptive eco-shoe startup whose message of sustainability aligned with that of its nonprofit partner: the National Audubon Society. All proceeds from the sales of this special collection would go to Audubon.
Given the increasingly crowded sneaker market and the typical noise around Earth Day, Allbirds needed someone to help differentiate and amplify its commitment to sustainability and the environment. Allbirds and Audubon had very similar goals. Audubon was happy to partner with Allbirds, which in turn engaged New York Times’ T-Brand Studio to create a piece that highlighted Audubon’s ornithological scientific research and called attention to the five climate-vulnerable birds. At the same time, the Audubon website featured information about the upcoming partnership. Allbirds dropped its limited-edition shoes (named after the birds) just ahead of Earth Day, 2019 when the company also announced its Carbon Fund along with its intention to go carbon neutral by the end of the year.
The campaign was extremely well received. Social media exploded with Facebook and Instagram reaching high engagement rates and overwhelmingly positive sentiments. The campaign generated features in AdWeek, Business Insider, New York Magazine, and MindBodyGreen. And, the first two weeks exhibited a huge lift over Allbirds’ Earth Day 2018 sales. What’s more, the collection sold out within a month of the campaign’s launch, and Allbirds donated $150,000 to Audubon.
Audubon experienced a wonderful lift from the campaign, which was extremely successful in elevating the organization’s profile among newer audiences. The campaign further strengthened Audubon’s role as a leader in the climate space, increasing awareness around their 2014 Birds and Climate Change Report and helping to set the stage for their forthcoming climate report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, released October 2019.
Lastly, and perhaps most important, the campaign served as a model for what other businesses can do to adopt more sustainable practices that curb their carbon footprint and mitigate their climate impact in a biosphere that is in dire need of protection.