DELL GREEN? How Dell Dropped Their Biggest Green Initiative
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DELL GREEN? How Dell Dropped Their Biggest Green Initiative

UPDATE 3-19-18: Today Dell posted a very green item on LinkedIn. An update to the story below from 2013 on the Legacy of Good that Dell believes will resonate with their customers. But don’t be fooled that Dell actually believes that being a green citizen is any more than a marketing tactic. We’ve been there. In fact, back in 2009, Dell started talking about “becoming the greenest company on the planet.” Dell doesn’t talk about that anymore. And Dell let the domain for DellEarth expire until this post was originally posted. At that time, I pointed out that Dell had simply dropped the ball on the ReGeneration.org initiative, and the domain was generating 404 errors. A marketing person from Dell reached out and thanked me for my comment and concern. And sure enough, Dell updated the domain and pointed the ReGeneration.org URL to their communities platform with a search for the tag “environment.”

Jump cut to today. I posted a link to this article on LinkedIn today in response to Dell’s Legacy of Good post. And guess what happened? Nothing. No one is listening. Dell does social media, probably through an outside agency or vendor using some massive online monitoring tool like Spredfast, and no one is really paying attention. So while Dell was promoting their green behavior today on LinkedIn, not one person reacted when I baited them with the Dell Green is a Lie post. I’ll be interested if someone picks up on it tomorrow. I guess I can tweet a link to this post at @dellcares and see if the Twitter response team picks up my information. I’m guessing they will. But I was certain someone would ask me to take the conversation to the back channels today when I posted a controversial slam at their greening-brand. Crickets.

UPDATE 3-15-13: Today, Dell 3.0 is hawking their Legacy of Good Plan. Do you think it’s any different than their “Greenest Company on Earth” pitch from 2009? Isn’t the new Dell just as eager to launch “marketing” campaigns based around causes? In this case, and the Green case below, “marketing” is a bad word. (I don’t mean to be a Dell gadfly, but if you’ve done it once, you’ll probably do it again.)

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“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, ReTweet!” — jmacofearth.
“If sustainability is the goal, then social media will be an enabling technology.”— jmacofearth.

In 2009 I served on a SXSW panel on Sustainability and Social Media: Here’s my PPT Deck: Social Media and Sustainability: Can We Agree On This?

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UPDATE 9-1-13:
Today corporate responsibility is a growing concern for most companies. If your consumer has visibility into your GOOD activities (example: TOMS buy one give one campaign) is high your business will prosper. If your consumer learns of your BAD activities the consequences are not so positive. The younger generations seem to be caring more and more about the good a company is involved in.

As DELL and the rest of the tech industry attempt to crawl out of the dismal economic hole, they need to freshen up their corporate image as well. And GREEN is a great place to start. Back in the day, in 2009, Michael Dell declared that Dell would become the greenest company on Earth. And with that his marketing team launched a very cool and powerful platform called ReGeneration.org. The call to action was strong. The positive messaging was sharp and aggressive. But something happened. The economy tanked and suddenly any NON-SALES related, or non-performing initiative was struck from Dell’s balance sheet. Huge batches of jobs were outsourced to Brazil as my Global Online group was cut in half. And in many ways, Dell did the right thing, for themselves as a company. While they struggled, shedding staff and expenses was one way to lessen the tumble into economic death.

But caught in this slash and burn correction was also Dell’s flagship program ReGeneration.org. And a year later, even the domain was abandoned. 

Perhaps today, DELL should recommit to their GREEN position and RELAUNCH ReGeneration.org. The values and ideas that were pushed there would resonate even stronger today, with the changing environmental climate. Could Dell reposition themselves, again, as going for the GREENEST company in America? Sure they could. 

I believe Dell continues to work hard to make healthier computers, less toxic manufacturing processes, and ever more ambitious technology recycling programs. But I don’t think they are getting their message out there with the same reach and passion that they did when my friends were running ReGeneration.org. Let’s hear what Dell has to say. I’ll ask my friend, who’s the head of Dell’s social responsibility team.

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In 2010, while at SXSW, I checked on Dell’s Green initiative. I learned that Dell had dropped their ReGeneration campaign altogether. A campaign that had millions of promotional dollars behind it, had suddenly gone 404. I was shocked, but not all that surprised.

SELF-ID: I worked at Dell for two years 2007 – 2009. I launched a ride-sharing app internally for Dell employees to find other carpool-ready people to share gas, conversation and commute to the Round Rock and Parmer Dell campuses. I was an active participant of Dell’s GREEN TEAM. I did not, however, work on Dell’s REgeneration program. I tried to get that team interested in a widget I had been architecting, but I was never part of ReGeneration.org.

+++ the original 2010 post +++

So one of the “campaigns” I’d like to highlight, that seemed to be running strong last year, and today it’s pushing up 404-page errors is Dell’s GREEN REgeneration campaign and website. [Here’s a Google cache of the site assets if you want to see them: Wayback Machine: ReGeneration.org] Here’s a sample page:

 

Digging up Dell's ReGeneration.org

Um, so maybe Dell was no longer committed to sustaining the world’s natural environment.

That said, when approaching a Dell RE: person about two years ago to understand more about what the GOAL of RE:gen was, the answer I kept getting was, “Michael want’s to give RE:gen to the world.”

Here’s how the rest of the conversation went both times I met with Dell RE:gen team members.

“Okay, so what is it your want people to do when they get to the Dell RE:gen site?”

“We want them to sign up.”

“And what do they get for opting-in to RE:gen?”

Silence.

Granted this was a rather web developer, social media strategist, type of questioning. Things like Goal and Purpose were often not part of the discussion for some of the biggest “programs.”

The unspoken goals of RE:gen were more clearly envisioned on Dell’s DellEarth page. These are my recollections of what Dell RE:gen was about.

Michael Dell had stated that Dell was going to become the Greenest company on Earth.

If people associate Dell with Green, perhaps some of the large-scale deals that were competitive on price might tip in Dell’s direction, if the large clients believed Dell was the “greener” company.

A “green halo” effect was imagined, even at the consumer-level, where Dell would gain sales because they were perceived to be more Green than say Apple or HP.

Those are fine ideas, and the Press Releases to support the “greenest company” program were effective at getting Dell noticed. Heck at one point a Dell VP even challenged Apple’s greenest notebook on the planet ads, not because anything Apple said was wrong, but because Apple had struck at the actual heart of Dell’s imagined RE:gen concept. Apple was out-greening Dell and Dell had nothing to say. [You can Google it, the conversation is still going.] And here on the earth not RE:gen site is the most recent press release (5-20-09) on Dell’s Green Leadership.

So finally I’m going to tell you that it costs NOTHING for DELL to redirect regeneration.org to point to dell.com/earth. But at some point, Dell decided it was no longer profitable, or in the best interest of the company to keep pouring money into the RE:gen project. But what they did next defies common sense and good web practices. They killed the RE:gen site WITHOUT ADDING THE REDIRECT.

problem loading Dell's ReGen page

And I can assure you it is not may connection.

dell drops ReGeneration

Here’s a thumbnail of what existed the last time the page was shown.

last viewing of Dell's ReGen page

And if you check the whois records you can see that Dell will OWN regeneration.org until mid 2011, so it’s not like the URL isn’t still pointed to the appropriate servers. I think I’ll get in the queue to buy the domain when it expires.

And there’s one other small problem in simply deleting an entire site of pages without any redirects. Here’s the result of a backlink check on regeneration.org from Google: Results 1 – 30 of about 586 linking to regeneration.org And I would be willing to bet that over 200 of those links are from within Dell.com in some form or fashion.

But the biggest question is, how does killing Dell’s Green program make any sense at all?

Green is not a campaign!

Green is not a marketing platform!

And if it is, that’s called Greenwashing. Shame on you Dell, or probably more directly, Dell’s PR and marketing firm that would let this happen. So Green is not the most important issue on Dell’s mind at the moment. Does the Green initiative simply go away? Is Dell still striving to be the greenest company on the planet? Or was that a 2009 advertising platform?

Final note: You can believe what you want about global warming, polar ice melt and the timing of the carbon turning point, but you cannot deny that we, as humans and businesses, are not doing a great job of mitigating the environmental impact on our environment. So use compact fluorescent lights, get a hybrid or hydrogen car, or simply hope that the scientists figure something out before we cross over the point of devastating and dangerous planetary climate shift. But please don’t let GREEN be an advertising program that ends!

If you are committed to GREEN, that commitment can never end. It costs me approximately $14.95 to have and host a domain for a year. Dell, please consider redirecting all of the regerneration.org links to your dell/earth pages. Or better yet, GIVE regeneration.org to a non-profit environmental group. You spent so much money and so many man hours building up a brand/campaign and what we thought was a “movement.” I promise you the GREEN TEAM within Dell, the employees who are working to reduce waist, reuse materials, and find better ways for Dell employees to be green, has not given up.

Last bit, the twitter/regeneration page is still up, with the last post being in October 2009, a self-promo piece by a Dell employee. UPDATE 10-15-13 the regeneration account is now used by a Russian tweeter. (Check-in 3-30-12 twitter page still up, same final post Oct. 22, 2009.)

Dell's GREEN ReGen Program is gutted

Yes, I believe Dell has done the first GREEN FACEPLANT. Let’s see if they redirect the ol’ site now.

UPDATE: Dell indeed did reclaim and redirect the regeneration.org domain.

A few more Dell regeneration.org facts:

Whois Record

Registrant Search:  “Dell Inc.” owns about 5,847 other domains is associated with about 5,964 domains

regeneration.org is hosted on a dedicated server.

Domain ID:D76811973-LROR
Domain Name:REGENERATION.ORG
Created On:03-Sep-2001 18:06:52 UTC
Last Updated On:16-May-2009 00:31:22 UTC
Expiration Date:03-Sep-2011 18:06:52 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Safenames Ltd. (R130-LROR)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:mmr-1674
Registrant Name:Dell Inc.
Registrant Organization:Dell Inc.
Registrant Street1:One Dell Way
Registrant Street2:MS 8033
Registrant City:Round Rock
Registrant State/Province:TX
Registrant Postal Code:78682
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.5127283500
Registrant FAX:+1.5122833369

Maybe someone should send an email to that address and let them know their site is broken. (grin)

Update 3-30-12: The ReGeneration.Org links go to Dell’s community platform, and occasionally you can find some of the great content created by Todd Dwyer and company. Like this post on the ReGeneration Road Trip from September 2008.

Update 4-20-10: AND ONLY TWO DAYS BEFORE EARTH DAY: I just got word that RE:GEN is back! Michelle M (@MichelleMAtDell) works miracles and regeneration.org is back up, at least as a redirect. Thank you Michelle and thank you Dell for standing tall in the face of economic hardships. Because green isn’t a campaign, it’s a way of life!

Follow the link and flood Dell with warm wishes for this effort, or don’t. I am happy to have been a part of the rebirth of Re:Gen.

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Update 4-19-10: Michelle M from Dell responded to my lament about the demise of regeneration.org today. Her comments are at the bottom. Kudos to Dell for the reach. (Correction: she must’ve come back through and deleted her comments. BOO!)

I can tell you, I know a bunch of people who would work to reignite Dell’s ReGeneration.org. Perhaps we need it more than ever.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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