The Voltage Gate

Advertising Slick with Green Paint

I just read a great editorial from E-Commerce Times discussing the grossly inflated advertising claims from businesses scrambling to embrace, at the very least, the imagery associated with the recent push in the environmental movement.

…this of course calls to mind the super-green-men of the new branding circus. As the green signal zips across the globe, the army of re-packaging experts awaits in their shiny green suits, carrying green flags while humming the song of the unicorn.

Branding. I remember hearing this term spewed by every advertising/PR major bustling in and out of the newspaper office, and it never appealed to me. I guess it’s lingo at this point, but it’s a bit offensive inherently; it is an advertiser’s job to stereotype and pigeonhole, and that’s leaking over into the meaninglessness that is the term “green.”

Javed goes on:

The question is, should corporations and producers of hardcore toxins simply hide behind sing-song, spinning green logos, or should they firmly stand up to the challenge and embrace the tough environmental questions?

The current branding industry is already ever so confused with a logo-dependent approach that they are forced to reinvent themselves as highly competent image makers hiding behind green masks, to cope with this issue. Is there anything wrong with this? Not really, but the fact is that somewhere along the line, the truth will eventually be exposed; green colored text on green ads, and green colored cars on green painted roads simply won’t do it.

Nevertheless, the current explosive greening message and repaint-to-green movement could be turned into a very good idea in the long run, but not like any typical, short lived and bizarre advertising campaign, and certainly not to become just another version of the happy-go-lucky-green-fad as a self-indulging exercise to fool oneself.

The public all over the world is becoming smarter by the day and can read between the lines much better than it could a decade ago, thanks to the Internet and global connectivity, where the truth cannot be sugar-coated forever; this issue craves honesty and demands leadership. Countries of the world could team up, take the lead role, invent and develop solutions and technologies, which would not only enforce a new boom to new technologies but also improve its global sustainability.

I suppose we can use BP as an example. A few years back they changed their image to a green and yellow star, painted the pumps green and started running Apple-esque commercials complete with a white backdrop, letting one of their bigwigs drone on about sustainability and big things in the future. In essence, they’re stalling.

The quote I emphasized is perhaps the most poignant. I don’t understand why failing American companies like Ford and GM aren’t retooling and embracing high tech fuel economy as the new economic wave to ride. Instead we get silly commercials about how their vehicles run on ethanol (like it’s a new thing) while 20 something models run around in corn fields.

Who knows? Maybe they are. Maybe BP really is making advances in alternative fuels. I for one have a hard time believing it, and I don’t think that’s entirely my fault. I don’t think I’m alone on this, but when big industry makes these kinds of moves, visually relabeling their products and services and blowing smoke, I tune it out, smirk and turn away.

I suppose the catch is this: Will people like me ever believe anything they say?

Comments

  1. #1 alias Ernest Major
    January 23, 2008

    BP are investing heaving in solar and wind power. They’ve announced plans to spend $500m over 10 years in biofuel research. See their 2006 Annual Review and Report.

  2. #2 katherine sharpe
    January 23, 2008

    Have you watched ‘The Corporation’? It’s highly worthwhile.

  3. #3 Jennifer
    January 23, 2008

    Nah, BP is just using slick advertising to make us think they’re green–the branding you’re talking about. In reality, they’re not moving towards alternative fuels, they’re embracing some of the most environmentally destructive energy sources:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/the-biggest-environmental-crime-in-history-764102.html

    Makes me think of the ridiculous coal ads I’ve seen lately. I can’t remember the tag line, but something that likens coal to warm, cozy homes and safe children. Blech. Yep, branding is very effective for some people, but rather repugnant.

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    January 24, 2008

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  5. #5 Dave Briggs
    January 24, 2008

    Countries of the world could team up, take the lead role, invent and develop solutions and technologies, which would not only enforce a new boom to new technologies but also improve its global sustainability.

    I had a couple year stint in PR. The thing is, it might be smoke and mirrors to begin with, but if it catches on and becomes the new social mandate then dreams can eventually become reality, albeit, usually slowly!
    Dave Briggs :~)

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