'Green our lever to move Israel from 2nd to 1st World'

Branding expert Martin Kace tells major environmental conference green tech is the way to go.

"Israel needs to have a green identity," Empax President Martin Kace told a rapt audience on Tuesday at the Environment 2020 conference, where he outlined the need to brand Israel as a leader in green technology worldwide. The conference brought together groups ranging from environmental NGOs to the Israel Police and from Coca Cola to the public. The one-day seminar - the main annual environmental conference, according to the organizers - had panels on global warming, environmental responsibility, green technology, and the challenges faced by industries aiming to be more environmentally friendly. It also featured a keynote address by California Congressman Henry Waxman. Kace, a former CEO of clothing companies Joe Boxer and Phat Pharm, explained how to brand Israel through a shift in focus and the perfect logo. Empax is "a pioneering graphic design house devoted exclusively to helping nonprofit organizations meet their marketing and communication needs," according to the company Web site. Empax has worked with an organization started by Al Gore. "Green is our [Israel's] lever to move from the second, developing world to the First World," said Kace, who received his B.A. from The Hebrew University. Kace explained that branding indicated a promise to the consumer. He showed how UPS, for instance, had branded itself as a company that guaranteed your package would arrive every time and in pristine shape. Regarding green branding and Israel, Kace outlined two short lessons. Lesson 1 was "greenwashing," in which a company could rebrand itself as environmentally friendly and thereby increase its business. Lesson 2 was the concept of "soft green," or marketing green as less than "manly." The godfathers of the green movement were hippies, and many people still associate the two, Kace said, adding that environmentally friendly products are often marketed in forms that look like children's toys. Showing an example of a lawnmower, he noted that "a manly man doesn't want to push what looks like a children's toy." Regarding Israel, "no amount of lipstick is going to make us look like a beauty in the eyes of much of the Western world. We need to do some soul-searching - why does the rest of the world perceive us as they do? Let's leverage that perception," Kace declared. "Efficiency, strength and creativity" could be Israel's new motto, he suggested. "Let's act like leaders, learn our own language and speak it." He suggested a logo that emphasized Israel's pioneering spirit. Kace believes green tech is the way to put Israel on the map, partly because "we missed the boat with tech. Israeli technology is part of so many things that people all over the world use every day but no one knows about it. With green, we're still at a beginning stage," he told The Jerusalem Post. Asked about another rebranding campaign that the government and others are currently formulating, he replied, "It sounds like they're trying to make Israel into Greece for Jews. It's sidestepping the whole soul of Israel. We're gnarly, not polished. But being branded brings a perception of polish." The conference also featured several company CEOs talking about how they've gone green. Leumi Card CEO Arye Heilweill listed several ways in which his company had adopted environmentally friendly principles. "We offer ways to donate to environmental organizations, and we sometimes send promotional materials to our customers," he said. As a company, "we switched all of our leased cars to hybrid cars, one of the first in Israel to do so. We're working on having an energy-saving computer room and, of course, recycling," among other things, he said. Outside stood a good example of a company that has gone all-out to become green: The Pilot pen company had set up a booth to demonstrate a recent invention - a whiteboard marker made almost entirely of recycled plastic. The marker's ink is not chemical, and it is refillable up to five times. All of Pilot's pens are almost entirely made from recycled plastic, a company representative said.