Being in Bulgaria meant I missed the fever pitch of the Live Earth concerts fortunately. This irritates me on so many levels – from the arrogance of the objective of “raising awareness” of climate change (don’t they think we’ve noticed already?) to the extravagant lifestyles of those involved (sod the carbon ratings, how’s my back catalogue doing) to the sponsorship of mega brands who saw this as just another global marketing opportunity.
Some of the media weren’t so easily influenced though and there are some good pieces on the topic of green consumerism. I particularly like the view that:
If nothing else, Home Depot’s Eco Options at least make even the most ignorant consumer aware there is an option – and therefore, a problem. I’d bet more people in North America have become at least marginally more eco-aware because of marketing rhetoric than from Live Earth or even An Inconvenient Truth.
This is not nothing. It’s not much, maybe. Not yet, anyway. But the paradox – one that true activists would abhor – is delicious: We consumed our way into this mess, and we’re trying to consume our way out. The other way – to stop consuming at all – is a beautiful notion, and a thinly conceived pipe dream.
So does this justify the hyperbole of eco-marketing? I don’t think so. Making more environmentally conscious products is justifiable social responsibility. If you are going to sell or buy things, they should make as little impact as possible. That is good business as well as being responsible. There should be a kaizen approach also of continuous improvement as consumers and producers.
I’d like to see more focus of marketers on environmental product design – such as ensuring devices cannot be left on stand-by. Looking at place, ie distribution, and ensuring local production and consumption would also be good. Price can be another environmental consideration – cost reduction necessitates poisoning the population of China or undertaking mass transportation of goods around the globe?
Instead we see too much concentration on the 4th P – the promotion of green regardless of the reality. David Phillips picks this up gloriously in his post about being pitched by a PR intern (student) on behalf of Chevrolet (one of the sponsors of Live Earth).
Of course communication is important – but instead of recognising the need to do good first, we get the spin and bling of marketing/PR. All the classic tools (which are largely recognised as being more and more ineffective) are used to shout “green” at the world. Lots of hot air – marketing’s contribution to global warming.
The marketing agencies have jumped on green and carbon emissions with glee. More reason to spend money advertising, sponsoring, even bizarrely using direct mail. Less understanding at the top of the need for strategic change, when their consultants are promoting how easy it is to be seen to be green.