Thursday, July 26, 2007

Claiming neutrality

I happened across this bit of ad-world navel gazing: Green meanz beanz and couldn't resist a few thoughts...

Well the water cooler vote should be interesting!

Hijacked??? The green agenda seems to have been kidnapped, the hostages killed immediately and then a never ending series of ever more outrageous videos pumped out to substantiate even more outrageous ransom demands.

Ok. Make that a qualified yes.

You are right to be suspicious. And Mr. Whitehouse has every reason to be outraged.

However, I would advocate some caution in how the discomfort 'we' are feeling gets manifested, especially as the core key to making a difference in the fight to mitigate man (PC-alert! Person...) made factors in creating negative climate change (For what it's worth I'm one of those who is not sure, but I simply hate waste and, in any case, for my kids' sake I figure it's better to be safe than sorry. So if the majority of climate experts say it's big and needs addressing now, I figure saying 'Are you sure?' will be a poor legacy. Make a great headstone, though: 'Yup. I guess they were right about global warming after all!. Sorry')

And almost everyone is playing silly b*ggers with the agenda for various selfish, self-promoting reasons, and not just most politicians. Though they are pretty top of a stinking pile. As with the recent floods. A bunch of Chicken Little's pointing at the sky and blaming climate change (which for sure may not have helped much) for creating an 'unprecedented situation that could not be predicted', when it wasn't and it was, respectively.

Which all gets the average Joe's trust factor on the first train straight back to Clarksonville.

You are so right that almost everything is twiddling about at the wrong end of the supply chain, throwing the onus on poorly informed, woefully supported and ill-equipped consumers to deal with all manner of things that is really nothing to do with them. If it's legal to manufacture and sell, why on earth does it end up with the punter to deal with the consequences of a 4x4 purchase, a bottle of Evian (those seeking to ban those two not living in a flood zone I'd hazard) or the packaging of a box of chox?

And I'm afraid that you have rather hit the nail with 'employ lots of people'. How many bazillions are being spent on government departments and unaccountable quangos to assess, research, monitor, and otherwise fiddle about with all this? And with comms budgets squandering amounts that could fund soooo many actual, tangible, plants, initiatives and programmes to really DO something and make a real difference. How many more TVCs pointing at Flash-enabled sites to 'raise' awareness of things people patently can't engage with even if they can be bothered. Forget my favourite measure of all things 'eco', the enviROI... what about simple ROIs? I've seen public websites getting excited at monthly hits in the tens of thousands. My granny's blog gets more than that! And if my agency had ever toddled along to a client and tried to make out 'improved awareness' that hadn't even made double digits was a success having blown several millions (and ignoring massive complementary PR), I'd be shown the door. Who accounts for all this waste of resource?

I'm sure hordes of boxes are being ticked as we speak, but are my kids' futures being protected here? Or a bunch of folks' pensions' plans and bonus structures?

I applaud any corporate who is getting on board and actually doing something here and now that's real and going to make a difference. But I dread the total horse manure that we will also end up being fed in A&P as a consequence. One more car ad with a leaf sticking out of its exhaust and I'm buying a Hummer. And as for going carbon neutral... great. Do it. Just don't shove it down my throat in such a crass way. The definition hasn't even been properly established yet. What's it mean? Are they reducing output? Simply being more efficient? Or trading a carbon credit to make more stuff elsewhere? Is it simply going to help the books internally, or will it a) help the consumer and b) the planet in any way? How many 'green ads' are getting booted out by the ASA at the moment to a tabloid fanfare? Think of the damage to consumer trust and the credibility of brands... and the genuine message.

As co-inhabitants of this planet of course 'we' should take responsibility for green becoming more about wealth generation than the planet.

But I'll leave you with a thought. Maybe, just maybe, with a bit of creativity, a dash of honesty and a smidge of ethics, some things can be done that not only help the planet, but also could lead to genuine marketing opportunities too. And if you'll allow a plug I'll mention in closing one that's dear to my heart that's doing all it can in this regard:

ps: Not all that's green can be viewed in black and white. That avocado? It may well be it's mostly marketing. But food waste accounts for waaaay more than packaging, so which would your prefer? A pile of bruised veg in the dumpster, or a bit of protection to help it through the distribution chain to Mr & Mrs Fussy-Yuppy? And in any case, do they even grow here? Yowser! Food miles! Carbon labels! Another debate for another time....

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