Now that “green” is all the rage, MTV launched this fabulous ad to remind people that, the same way that not everything that shines is gold, not everything labeled green is actually eco-friendly.
Although hilarious, the ad presses a very serious point, blowing the whistle on the green fad and the way it has been shamelessly exploited by all sorts of companies that are anything but ecological.
By looking at the latest communication campaigns by the oil companies, for instance, one might come to think that they were actually in the flower business, such is the profusion of “green” and “environmental friendly” images and claims. Just look at BP’s brilliant (but ultimately highly deceiving) rebranding from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum.
Of course all this green talk may cut it for a while, but not for long. As Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
So of lately a trend as been emerging of “greenwash aware” people that bother to scratch the thinly coated green paint that many brands are using to mask their true colors. And this spells trouble for those who allow themselves to be spotted at the fake green corner.
For the moment, this kind of illusionist’s tactic still pays off, as only the most environmental-conscious bother to look beyond the scenario. I mean, who’s going to blame you for preferring to fill your tank at a BP station just because it’s painted green? I myself feel tempted to give them preference, like this babies here:
However, the brand value that’s being grown on the back of “fake green” claims will sooner or later explode in their faces. And that’s because all fooled people have one thing in common: they get awfully upset when they find out (or can no longer ignore) they’ve been duped.
I mean, you go to all that trouble to separate your garbage, you buy the costlier low-consumption bulbs and you take a shower with two drops of water, all in the name of eco-friendliness. And then you happily give your money to people who are just pretending to go through the drills? It doesn’t seem quite right, does it?
So, as eco-friendly behavior sinks in and the ranks of the “greenwash aware” swallow, it will be less and less safe for brands to recur to this kind of deception.
That day is getting closer. When a massive player like MTV starts riding a wave, you should see it as a clear sign that the water is no longer shallow, and that the trend has reached critical mass – and it’s now about to explode.
MTV’s “Switch” campaign should get all the alarms ringing at the “fake greens” headquarters, and prompt them to do some switching themselves.
Deception may seem attractive today. But in the long run, authenticity always proves to be the better strategy.
In the near future, it would be better for brands to stay faithful to their true colors. If it’s green, all the better. If not, either really make it so, or stand up on other merits.
So, be green or be mean. But just don’t pretend. It will cost you.