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Chapter 10

CMNS 221 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Advertising Age, Green Marketing

Course Code
CMNS 221
Martin Laba

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Selling with Social Issues
Some companies, notably Ben & Jerry’s, the Body Shop, and Patagonia, have built
their corporate identities on earnest attempts to be socially responsible
Cause-related marketing, whereby companies donate a portion of their income to
nonprofit groups and publicize the gesture, is an increasingly popular way to boost
profits while generating funds for worthwhile causes
Some companies compensate for bad behaviour
They may simply appropriate the language or imagery of social change movements
such as environmentalism or feminism
Many marketers who sell with social issues are more concerned about public
relations than about the public interest
Green Marketing
The most wolfish polluters are donning the sheep’s clothing of environmentalism,
seeking to cash in on public concern about the fare of the planet
In the late 1980s, after scientists found alarming evidence of global climate change
and holes in the ozone layer, pollsters measured a sharp increase in public concern
about the environment
Advertising Age heralded green marketing as the marketing tool of the 90s at least
until the next hot button starts glowing
The new eco-consciousness could spur a genuine greening of corporate America if
companies honestly addressed concerns about excess packaging, harmful chemicals
and threats to wildlife
But far more often, corporations make exaggerated claims about the environmental
benefits of their products or simply co-opt the rhetoric and images of the conservation
The US Council for Energy Awareness has taken out a series of magazine ads
boasting that nuclear power plants are good for the atmosphere because they emit
few airborne pollutants
Of course, nuclear plants do produce tons of deadly radioactive waste, but the
industry apparently does not think that constitutes a threat to the environment
The use of such tankers is certainly a worthwhile step, but the aquatic creatures
pictured in the ad might hold their applause if they knew the facts
The feel-good commercial masks a grim environmental record
The profusion of green ads has produced a backlash of scrutiny and mistrust
Perhaps as a result of state and federal regulations, many marketers are backing
away from overt environmental claims
Green claims are an endangered species because advertisers are unwilling to take
the heat from consumer groups and government
Marketers may be temporarily refraining from making explicit environmental claims
about their products, but they still conjure up the green spirit to sell goods
By borrowing the language and imagery of environmentalism, they trivialize and
subvert its messages
To use the rhetoric of the environment movement to sell consumer goods is ironic
enough, but to employ it to sell automobiles is a monumental act of bad faith
Some companies transmit environmentally responsible messages, but their very
nature of business tends to counter their own advertisements
One Percent for Peace, 99 Percent for Profit
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