Authenticy in Green Advertising

This week on the Overbrook Blog we are going to highlight some of the different types of green advertising and test them for their authenticity.

We’ll start with “green lite” which are light environmental claims businesses make. These companies aren’t hiding and lying about anything, just extending the truth a little bit. For example, say you have been recycling in your home for the past 10 years and then all the sudden you decide to make it the focus of your marketing campaign. You aren’t doing anything wrong, but you aren’t making any additional actions, and you’re taking advantage of a trend to make your brand or product seem different or better.

Next, we will highlight “lame green.” Lame green advertising claims are made by companies whose businesses practices have a moderate negative environmental impact, but are making really ‘lame’ or weak claims about their how their product actually improves the Earth. For example, bottled water companies have recently come under a lot of flack for the impacts on public and local water rights, waste, and global warming contributions from production and shipping. Many bottled water companies are fighting back with advertisements that claim their products are inspired and reflect nature. That’s a lame green claim.

And finally we will talk about “greenwashing” which is the most serious. Greenwashing is similar to whitewashing and a deliberate cover up and deflection from environmental offenses. Let’s say you were running a business out of your garage and making a ton of money off of trinkets. Unfortunately, they created a ton of acidic waste which you then dumped into the stream in your backyard. When you came back tons of fish were found dead. Your neighbors got upset and called you environmentally irresponsible. Then in response you put a beautiful sign outside your house praising the beauty of freshwater streams and how we should all work to protect it. That’s deceptive. That’s greenwashing. The biggest companies acting this way are oil and car companies whose business practices are directly contributing to climate change. They are vehemently working behind the scenes to stop any legislation, however, they are publicly advertising their environmental and innovative practices.