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Going green since 1908

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Cover of New York Tribune, May 2010


Everything new — circa 1908 — continues to be new.

Environmentalists, corporate types and natural resource preservation? Don’t just think it’s a new concept in marketing and commerce. Yes, most Americans know of the mission of Theodore Roosevelt to preserve America’s natural landscape.

Apparently, Roosevelt also garnered the attention of robber barons and industrialists to consider going green (i.e., “husband…natural resources”) in a May 1908 industrial conference. The Tribune headline reads:

“Remarkable conference this week on the husbanding of America’s natural resources” (LOC, via Flckr)

Take a close look (just around 8 o’clock) where you’ll spot Andrew Carnegie. He was, of course, one of the greatest profiteers of natural resources. Carnegie was also one of the greatest philanthropists.

So what’s all this got to do with cutting-edge relationship marketing? Well, it just proves that all our new techniques and issues may not be as new or cutting edge as we might like to proclaim. It’s not that our thinking is flat; it’s our ego thinking that we’re terminally unique in our 21st century, Web 3.0 marketing initiatives.

Think of this top-level conference as the ultimate in business-to-business marketing. There’s Carnegie, one nod of the head, one handshake away from the president as well as the nation’s top industrialists. The circle of influence and engagement is obvious and its meaning apparent. Using 21st century lingo, it looks pretty peak-of-the-funnel to me. Most surprising, the illustrator conveyed meaning by using a hub with spokes!

Newspaper readers, pioneer 20th century consumers, were just gearing up for the early days of mass consumption. Seeing the cover article, they were no doubt ripe to read the details, see what was coming for them in the way of jobs, merchandise along with a new way of life that included tourism and travel for the average Joe and Josephine.

The conference, apparently, set out to deal with cutting edge topics and commerce in the heyday of industrialism. By dealing with the larger environmental issues—their word was husbandry—these business leaders knew they were building a brand for themselves. They were averting a crisis in personal branding before there was a word for it. It’s not a pretty point of history in U.S. business. It is interesting, certainly, and gives us much to reflect on as digital marketers, working in social hubs, proclaiming the 4Rs,

Repurpose, reuse, recycle, reduce!

What’s your experience?

Do you find yourself looking to classic methods that can be updated to the Web 3.0 world? Or do you “discover” a new method only to find that another pioneer has been there before you? Is that a good thing?

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Archive Information

Via Flickr:
New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924

May 10, 1908, Image 17

Notes: Cover, illustrated supplement.

Format: Newspaper page, from microfilm

Rights Info: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Repository: Library of Congress, Serial and Government Publications Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.

Part Of: Chronicling America (Library of Congress) (DLC) –

Persistent URL:…

More information about the Chronicling America Web site is available at

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