The Triple Bottom Line and the Wiener Mobile

The Wiener-Mobile Fleet

In 1994, John Elkington, the British management consultant and sustainability guru, coined the phrase “triple bottom line” as his way of measuring performance in corporate America. The idea was that a company can be managed in a way that not only earns financial profits but which also improves people’s lives and the planet. Since that time, numerous progressive, forward-thinking companies and governments agencies have considered the triple bottom line in their mission and values statements, and their standard operating practices.

According to Investipedia, the triple bottom line (TBL) is a framework or theory that recommends that companies commit to focus on social and environmental concerns just as they do on profits. The TBL posits that instead of one bottom line, there should be three: profit (economic value), people (social), and the planet (environmental practices).

As a fleet management consultant working with many leading organizations, it is my firm belief that todays commercial vehicle fleets can, and should, be value-added contributors to the corporate TBL. Green fleets can be high-profile ambassadors in the community and rolling billboards to communicate an organization’s messages.

There are many good examples such as the major courier companies whose eco-trained drivers – without hesitation or exception – shut off their engines for delivery stops of even the shortest duration. Or over-the-road trucking fleets that have embraced full aerodynamics packages on their trucks and proudly display ‘green fleet’ branding. These companies are actively reducing their COemissions, saving fuel costs and creating positive public impressions all at the same time – wow, all three P’s! Today’s savvy consumers, shareholders and citizens do take notice and care.

Rolling Billboards

Fleet vehicles are highly-visible rolling billboards and publicly showing corporate commitment to the environment is a powerful story that can be communicated via vehicle signage or graphics, such as anti-idling or vehicle speed limit messages.

E3 Fleet members can display their adherence to “Environment, Energy and Excellence” by means of the E3 logo. Or SmartWay Transport partners can display that programs logos and there are other options available. Today’s environmentally concious consumers take notice – displaying fleet vehicles ‘green-ness’ is a positive message that builds consumer confidence and hence, brand value.

Do you remember the iconic and head-turning “Wiener Mobiles”? In 1936 the Oscar Meyer company designed a vehicle shaped like a hot dog on a bun, to promote their products. Its success resulted in the evolution of a fleet of Wiener Mobiles.

Over the decades these attention-grabbing vehicles have generated goodwill and created smiles at public events and they continue to perpetuate the Oscar Meyer brand to the present day. 

Now consider for a moment, if Wiener Mobiles were unwashed, poorly maintained, with damaged bodywork, belched black exhaust smoke, allowed to idle excessively and driven aggressively by surly, unsafe “hot-doggers”. What would public perceptions be?

While the Wiener Mobile may be an extreme example, the crux of my argument is that commercial fleets are highly visible and the public will react to what it sees. Your fleet can be an excellent opportunity to broadcast your organization’s brand, values and messages.

We’ve seen that the Wiener Mobile champions two pillars of the TBL: (1) People (social) and (2) Profit (economic value). But what about the third pillar “Planet”? While hot-dogs haven’t evolved much, road fleet transportation, business management and environmental issues have changed tremendously since 1936 when the first wiener mobile hit the road.

Todays progressive green fleet managers embrace their role in contributing to their organization’s environmental goals and targets. Nowadays responsible fleets provide their drivers with training in safe and eco-friendly, idle-free practices. Data collection and management are key success factors – after all, you can’t manage the unknown. Vehicle life cycle management and precise specifications are vital to success. Green, low-carbon options include electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full-on battery–electric. Then there are fuels to consider: alternate fuels such as propane and natural gas, and renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol. 

With a few green tweaks today’s Wiener Mobiles could become full-on, 3P rolling examples of the triple bottom line.  So, here’s some ‘food for thought’. What would a fleet of eco-friendly, low-carbon Wiener Mobiles look like? Although hot dogs appear to have a somewhat low drag coefficient, let’s add some more aerodynamics. And what the heck, why not go all the way and order ’the works’ on our new hotdog-mobiles and go with fully battery-electric drivetrains, or maybe even an advanced hydrogen fuel cells.

I am sure these green fleet concepts would really ‘cut the mustard’ for Wiener Mobile fans.

I ‘relish’ the thoughts of a cleaner, greener environment (did I hear a collective groan?).

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