Ethical Funds Campaign Out of Touch With Real Issues
Hemptown Clothing Inc. News Release
February 3, 2003
VANCOUVER, BC - "I'm mad as hell that ethical funds would dismiss our products specifically and environmentalists in general to appeal to their aging demographic investor market!" says Jerry Kroll, President Hemptown Clothing Inc.
The current ad campaign for ethical funds, owned by Credential Asset Management Inc., and sold by financial institutions such as VanCity, includes a couple of billboards that you may have seen. One says "I don't wear hemp or burn incense. I just want a better world." another says "I'm not a tree hugger or a hippy. I just want a better world."
"This message has been crafted to lull their target market of 50- something baby boomers - the 25% of the population that controls 60% of the wealth in North America - into believing that they can "do the right thing" and still make a healthy profit without changing their consumer habits. And to top it all off, you won't be associated with those hemp-wearing, incense- burning flakes. How far from the mark could this campaign be?" asks Kroll, who goes on to say, "For a company that bills this investment portfolio as "Canada's first family of socially responsible mutual funds" and talks about "sustainability, eliminating the release of toxic substances, and development of innovative products with environmental benefits", they should really be better informed of the facts."
If you don't wear hemp, chances are you wear cotton - the other "natural" fibre.
Cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging crops in the world. According to the FAO, globally, more insecticides are used on cotton than on any other crop. In fact 25% of all insecticides are applied to cotton - that's 60 million pounds in the USA alone; 495 million pounds globally - each year. Many of these chemicals are known carcinogens. According to Will Allen, of the Sustainable Cotton Project, "Of the top 15 chemicals used in California cotton farming, 7 of them cause cancer and all but 1 cause birth defects." Cotton also requires 29,000 litres of fresh water to produce 1 kilogram of cotton lint, making it the most fresh water intensive crop in the world. The flood irrigation method typically used on cotton lays waste to huge areas of farm land through increased soil salinity.
Hemp, by comparison, is grown in cooler climates, like Canada, where it requires much less irrigation. It's also naturally pest resistant and forms a leafy canopy, which shades out competing weed species, eliminating the need for pesticides.
"It's ironic that, in their attempts to seduce the aging, conservative investor, they have marginalized the environmental movement by dismissing them as a flaky fringe element. In an era of devastating environmental impacts, any individual that takes the initiative to reduce the size of their footprint on the environment should be applauded, not dismissed in the way that this billboard campaign does.
This campaign is built on popular misconceptions and panders to archaic stereotypes of environmentalists. If this is how poorly they grasp the real issues, it makes me wonder how well they research the investment opportunities for their ethical funds," concludes Kroll.
For further information: Please contact: Jerry Kroll, President, Hemptown Clothing Inc., 1307 Venables Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5L 2G1, T: 604-255-5005, F: 604-255-5038, toll-free: 866-436-7869 (866.hemptown), www.hemptown.com.
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Ethical Fund Issues Apology
Sent: 6 février, 2003 18:39
Subject: RE: ad you placed on PATTISON's board
Thank you for sharing your comments with us about our Ethical Funds® billboard advertisements.
Please accept our sincere apologies, as it was not our intention to offend anyone with the Ethical Funds billboard ads. The ads were meant to say that you do not have to drive a moped, live in a commune, wear hemp, burn incense or hug trees to want a better world. We want to appeal to a larger audience who may not be environmentalists or activists. In essence, the message we want to relay is that "By investing in Ethical Funds you can help make a difference in the world". We thank you for your valuable comments and we will forward them to our Marketing department for future ad development.
If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us at 1.877.ethical (1.877.384.4225). One of our Mutual Fund Investment Specialists will be glad to assist you.
Ethical Funds Inc.
Mutual Fund Investment Specialist
1441 Creekside Drive, 8th Floor
Vancouver, BC V6J 4S7
Ethical Fund Offers Apologies: "SRI's are for everyone"
----- Original Message -----
From: Bob Walker
To: Kevin@hemptown.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
Sent: Monday, February 10, 2003 9:15 AM
Subject: Ethical Funds billboard advertisements
Dear Mr. Friesen et al:
Our apologies to you are starting to pile up. But they are due. Let s do this in reverse chronology.
First, please accept our apologies for providing you and others with an unsatisfactory stock response to concerns regarding our most recent billboard advertisements. I hope you can appreciate that, on a daily basis, we receive many comments about various aspects of our product. (By now you may be surprised to learn that many of these comments are positive.) For the sake of efficiency, we do establish standard responses. Clearly, the response offered to you missed the mark.
Second, please accept our apologies with regard to the billboard advertisements. It is not our intention to offend or slight environmentalists. Indeed, Ethical Funds works with a wide variety of environmental organizations to further the objectives of socially responsible investment (SRI). We share the objective of enhancing corporate social and environmental responsibility to create a more just and sustainable society. We know that many people who call themselves environmentalists are also Ethical Funds unitholders. (I would fall into this category myself). We believe that environmentalists can make their investment portfolios consistent with their values by investing in Ethical Funds and other SRI products.
In managing and marketing Ethical Funds, however, it has become apparent to us that many people who believe that corporations should operate in an environmentally-sound manner do not immediately identify themselves as environmentalists. Somewhere along the road, these people have acquired the perception that Ethical Funds and SRI is part of a political agenda and a lifestyle that they cannot buy into. I would hazard a guess that people in the hemp clothing business face a variant of this same perceptual barrier. Our billboard ads are an attempt to convey the message that SRI is for everyone. The values that inform our investment activity are held by the vast majority of Canadians. We hope that the ads can help people come to understand this, to make a link between their investment activity and their values, and yes, we hope that the ads can prompt people to consider an investment in Ethical Funds.
Again, we apologize for any offense. I would be pleased to meet with you to discuss the environmental principles that inform our investment activity and our shareholder activism. We are involved in several dialogues related to the environment that may be of interest to you. I would be pleased to give you some of the play by play that makes my job so interesting and (I believe) make Ethical Funds such a great investment product.
Please feel free to contact me directly, should you wish to meet.
With Best Regards,
Vice President, SRI Policy & Research
Ethical Funds Inc.
1441 Creekside Drive, 8th Floor
Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 4S7
t 604 714 3833
f 604 714 3861
P.S. I don t appear to have access to an email address for Mr. Hanks. Could you please forward this message to him?