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Blatent, out and out greenwashing

April 24 2009 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

I've always loved simple messaging that rings true.

In the ocean of muddled marketing sometimes the best thing to do is tell the cold, hard and sometimes ugly truth.

I loved the premise behind the film Crazy People when the ad exec goes crazy and sends truthful ads to print "Buy Volvos. They're boxy but they're good." Sure it was just a film, but it struck a nerve... it felt like common sense rose from it's slumber.

I just came across a new consultancy appropriately named "Greenwashers Consulting" complete with tags like "Change YOUR image to change THEIR minds" and "Can your business afford not to be seen as green?" The imagery I've include here are from their site.

Perfect. I know exactly what they do.

They make less environmentally-oriented products and services appear to be more environmentally-oriented products and services. Why, because that's what's drives sales. Smarmy? Sure. Misleading. Probably. But at least they are up front about it.

If this was April 1st, I'd understand a bit more and simply push it into a "gee, aren't they clever" file.

Who knows? Maybe it IS a well-executed spoof (all the client's corporate identities are removed, the web form and 800 number go to black boxes in the sky, it's actually pretty easy to throw up a slick, flash-based microsite about nothing... and maybe it went live on April 1st... who knows). And yet, it almost doesn't matter if it's a joke or not because it is simply a blatant reflection of what's is really going on in many instances.

It's kind of like those Volvo ads. It almost doesn't matter if they ever went to print or not.

It almost doesn't matter... but the truth is that it DOES matter. When one looks at the state of things at a higher level one quickly finds out that the real issues aren't about hucking more products or services so company can make this quarter's numbers. The real issues concern our planet, which is linked to our food supply, which is linked to our very existence. Thus, in my opinion, greenwashing is something approaching a moral crime because it makes people think that thier consumer habits are yielding a different impact than they are. It fuels the ignorance of the person that buys cases and cases of plastic water bottles and justifies it to friends with saying "oh, we recycle!" They believe they are part of the solution when they are actually fueling the problem.

This is a sign of the times. It's morbidly brilliant. But the key word there isn't the brilliant... it's the morbid.
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