Sunday, April 6, 2014

Riding the Green Wave in April

Ann Curry's special on NBC - "Our Year of Extremes: Did #ClimateChange Just Hit Home" - was well done and provided a necessary reminder - in simple a+b=c terms that there is little doubt it is people that are impacting our planet's dramatic weather changes. And watching the report as both an ad sales marketer and someone passionate about sustainability, something was clearly missing. Something as glaring as those glacier images. Not one advertiser in that show grabbed the opportunity to align their brand with corporate social responsibility. And not one advertised product was anything endemic to the area of sustainability. There were half a dozen ads for QSRs and fast food restaurants, a couple of department stores and (ironically) insurance companies, many cleaning products, and even those land-filling coffee pods. I'm from the "it'll never be perfect but at least we can try" camp. So, where was Starbucks and its sustainability effort? Where were CSX or Amtrak touting fuel-saving transportation modes? How about even a fuel-efficient or hybrid car? Even Microsoft - which PRNews just applauded as the most socially responsible company of 2013. Instead, we saw ads for (ironically) air fresheners and burgers.
A few years back #NBC launched its fairly wide-reaching "Green in Universal" effort. Where's the beef now? Around then, #CBS bought a smart little company EcoMedia, which while today still allows ads for mainstream brands to feature a leaf in the corner of your screen, indicating a portion of the ad buy is being donated to environmental causes, I haven't seen a leaf in a long time. Now, just as when waves of consciousness were spurred by things like long fuel lines then diminished when the lines went down, it seems it has grown less ...convenient?... to wave a green flag. Yet media media gives a nod to extra eco-content in April -- Earth Day month  
But as every marketer today will tell you, ads are most effective when more "native" to the content and appropriately aligned. So, some cynics might cry "greenwashing" if the Climate Change special had ad loads of more environmentally conscious products, but even they would have to agree that the AD environment was better suited to sponsors who at least tried to grab the opportunity to shine their sustainability spotlight a little bit brighter.