Eco-Sustainability: Unilever’s CSR Commitment Through “Farewell To The Forest”

Farewell To The Forest: Unilever's CSR Commitment | Enterprise Wired

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Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company founded in 1929, is renowned for its wide range of products in food, beverages, home, and personal care. Some of its brands include Dove, Knorr, Lipton, Magnum, and Hellmann’s. The brand is recognized for its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, for which it launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to tackle environmental and social challenges and showcase its dedication to making a positive impact.

The “Farewell to the Forest” campaign is one of Unilever’s initiatives targeting to raise awareness about the issue of deforestation. It highlights the rapid global loss of forests and points out the impact on urban areas, including issues like droughts, flooding, air quality, and medicine production. The campaign features a symbolic character, the ‘Treefugee,’ who is escaping from the forest to seek refuge in a city, prompting viewers to consider the safety of trees in urban locations compared to their natural habitats.

Its decision to launch this campaign lines up with its commitment to sustainability, highlighting the interconnections of environmental health and the well-being of communities worldwide. By addressing the crucial issue of deforestation, it aims to inspire action and underline the importance of preserving and protecting forests for the benefit of the environment and society.

The Campaign: 

The “Farewell To The Forest” campaign by Unilever is an impactful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative aimed at raising awareness about deforestation and its environmental consequences. The Campaign gives a powerful message, suggesting that trees might be safer in the city rather than in the forest, which prepares an interesting story to reveal.

The video features a tree making a symbolic expedition to central London, conveying the notion that it believes it will be harmless to be surrounded by humans in the city rather than in the forest. During the video, participants observe and touch the tree, illustrating a connection between people and nature.

The tree believes people can solve deforestation by working together. The campaign wants people to notice how fast forests are disappearing worldwide and understand the link between the environment and our actions.  The campaign tells an appealing story with a symbolic character, the ‘Treefugee,’ and shares impactful statistics like the destruction of 48 football fields of forest per minute. Its goal is to make people consider the importance of saving and safeguarding forests.

Additionally, the “Farewell To The Forest” campaign supports Unilever’s bigger goal of sustainability. The brand wants all materials in its products to be sourced sustainably, especially focusing on decreasing the environmental impact of deforestation.

Motive of the Campaign: 

Farewell To The Forest: Unilever's CSR Commitment | Enterprise Wired

The “Farewell To The Forest” campaign by Unilever aimed to make people aware of a big problem: cutting down too many trees. They wanted to show how quickly forests are disappearing and why it matters for the environment. The campaign used a story about a tree going to the city to make people consider the importance of saving forests. It

 also wanted to show that they care about the environment by working to use materials in their products more responsibly and reduce harm to forests. The goal was to get people to pay attention, care about the issue, and take action to protect the forests.

Key Elements of the “Farewell to the Forest” Campaign

  1. Partnership with Ad Agencies: Unilever collaborated with creative agencies DAVID and Ogilvy & Mather London, leveraging their expertise in advertising and storytelling.
  2. Deforestation Awareness: The core objective is to raise awareness about the pressing issue of deforestation, highlighting its harmful impact on the environment and climate change.
  3. Online Platform: The commercial is strategically planned to run online, maximizing its reach and engagement, especially before the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.
  4. Strategic Timing: The release timing is strategically planned just before the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, aligning the campaign with a global event for maximum impact.
  5. Global Collaboration: It acknowledges the need for collaborative efforts and engages in partnerships with NGOs, governmental bodies, and corporations to increase the impact of its environmental initiatives.
  6. Digital Impact: The campaign aims to connect digitally, leveraging the digital platform to reach a global audience and encourage discussions on environmental conservation.
  7. Focus on Deforestation Mitigation: The “Zero Deforestation” pledge and the partnership with WWF underscore Unilever’s commitment to, actively contribute to mitigating deforestation and protecting vital ecosystems.

Deforestation-Free Supply Chain Strategy in “Farewell to the Forest”:

Farewell To The Forest: Unilever's CSR Commitment | Enterprise Wired
  • Raw Material Origins Traceability: Collaborating with major technology firms and innovative start-ups to gain a deep understanding of the impact of sourcing, especially in the critical first mile.
  • Partnering: Utilizing technology in partnership with suppliers and industry collaborators to establish more traceable and transparent supply chains.
  • Transparent Verification: Developing independent verification protocols and piloting them in the sourcing of palm oil, cocoa, and soy.
  • Stronger Monitoring and Response: Leveraging digital capabilities to enhance monitoring, prediction, and response to situations where deforestation is likely to occur. This includes identifying high-risk areas and taking proactive action where needed for maximum impact.

Campaigns Address Environmental Issues and Deforestation by Unilever:

  1. Greenpeace – Rang-tan’s Forest: This animated campaign highlights the impact of palm oil production on rainforests and orangutans. It tells the story of Rang-tan, a monkey displaced by deforestation.
  2. WWF – #SaveOurForests: The World Wildlife Fund runs various campaigns addressing deforestation. #SaveOurForests focuses on raising awareness about the importance of forests and the need for their preservation.
  3. Rainforest Foundation – Protect an Acre: This campaign encourages individuals to contribute to protecting rainforest acres. Donors can “adopt” an acre to support conservation efforts.
  4. National Geographic – Before the Flood: While more focused on climate change, this documentary, supported by National Geographic, features deforestation as one of the critical environmental issues contributing to climate change.
  5. Greenpeace – The Amazon’s Silent Crisis: Greenpeace has various campaigns related to deforestation. This one specifically addresses the deforestation crisis in the Amazon rainforest.
  6. Conservation International – Nature Is Speaking: A series of short films featuring celebrities giving nature a voice. While not solely focused on deforestation, some segments highlight the consequences of losing forests.

Keith Weed’s Perspective on Campaigns Like ‘Farewell to the Forest’: A Sustainability Vision

Farewell To The Forest: Unilever's CSR Commitment | Enterprise Wired

In 2016, Keith Weed shared that the company’s top brands now focus on doing good things for the world. He explained this at a big creativity festival. Unilever’s best brands come from a group that aims to be kind to the environment and make a positive impact on society. This group grew faster in 2015 than before, doing better than the rest of its brands by 30% and helping the company grow a lot.

Weed talked about “campaigning brands” – brands that have a purpose and mean something important. Unilever thinks it’s not just a good thing to care about society; it’s also a smart way to do business. Brands like Ben & Jerry’s, known for caring about things like gay marriage and the environment, show this idea. Its commitment to being environmentally friendly is also shown in campaigns like “Farewell To The Forest,” which talks about making products in a way that doesn’t hurt forests.

Its idea of doing things responsibly goes beyond specific causes. They checked how women are shown in ads and found that many ads don’t fairly show women. In response, the brand is changing how it shows women in ads, aiming to make ads that are more modern and show women as real and interesting people. Unilever thinks this isn’t just a good thing to do; it also makes good business sense.


In short, Unilever’s “Farewell to the Forest” campaign is like a story that talks about the importance of taking care of our forests. They use a character called the ‘Treefugee’ to show how trees might be safer in the city than in the forest. The brand wants to tell everyone that cutting down too many trees is a big problem and we all need to pay attention and do something about it. The campaign is part of Unilever’s plan to be more careful about where they get their materials, so they don’t harm the environment. They hope to make people care about saving forests and understand how our actions affect the world around us.



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