Thursday, 5 November 2009

How It all Began

The Genesis of the text book „Sustainability Marketing“

It was in the year 2000, when Frank was invited by his colleague Hanna-Leena Pesonen to give a masters course in Eco-Marketing at the University of Jyväskylä (School of Business and Economics) in Finland, that he began playing around with the idea of writing an international text book on sustainability marketing. It took him a couple of years to get it started (for a number of reasons including dating his future wife Mirjam) and in 2006 he sent a book proposal to several international publishers, including the rationale and outline of the book, its market potential, and a sample chapter. Right from the beginning Wiley was interested in the book proposal and asked ten evaluators from all over the world to give feedback to the project. Generally, the project was well received and constructive feedback was given. In mid February 2007 the Wiley marketing department decided to give it a go (a couple of days after the release of the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change). They categorised the book as a “slow burner” with the potential of solid sales and organic growth in the future. As the project became real Frank asked Ken to join him in the endeavour. Ken has already published two books on green marketing (1992) and environmental marketing management (1995) respectively. After that he had solemnly promised his wife that he would never write another book. He was able to get around the promise, because writing half a (text) book does not really count! (or at least that’s what he tried to claim when she found out about three months before we completed it). The contract between Wiley and the two authors was signed in the summer of 2007 promising to deliver the final manuscript in the following year.

Then the hard work began. We agreed on the structure of the book and split up the chapters between the two of us. Each chapter was limited to approximately 6,000-8,000 words, including learning objectives, previews, sustainability marketing stories, concepts, illustrating examples, key words, review and discussion questions, as well as sustainability marketing challenges. Once the first draft was written, each passed it on to the other and vice versa. A creative writing process began, exchanging first ideas, discussing them further and creating prototypes. It was a truly inspirational experience, made possible by the internet. It is amazing, but we neither met personally nor did we talk over the phone during the entire writing process. And although we both live in Europe and thus in the same time zone, we almost worked non-stop on the text book for a few months: Whereas Frank is an “early bird”, starting writing at six o’clock in the morning, Ken worked the “night shift”, getting creative in the late evening. At the end of 2008 we finally made it. The last chapter was written and submitted to Wiley for layout and production. (In Ken’s case his last chapter amendments were completed over four nights in a hotel bar during an International Sustainability Conference after even the bar staff had gone to bed!) .

A matter of discussion was the first version of the title cover, as proposed by the Wiley designer. Although the design was both technically clever and aesthetically pleasing, we as authors were not convinced it carried the right message. From our point of view the original version fulfils every cliché of an alternative kind of exotic sustainability marketing as opposed to our vision of establishing a new sustainability oriented mainstream of marketing! As you can see on the right hand side, the final title cover looks utterly different. What do you think about the old and new versions of the title cover? Please, send us your comments!


  1. Great book and excellent timing.
    Do you feel that the tide is finally changing from the traditional view of marketing towards a new sustainability-oriented vision? People have been predicting the death of the 4 P’s for a long time.

  2. Sustainability in Marketing Colloquium
    December 4, 2009

    Von Allmen Center for Green Marketing
    University of Kentucky
    Lexington, KY

    Could be of interest - see