Has the Purpose of Earth Day Become Lost in Marketing?

posted on April 23rd 2010 in green & KDL with 0 Comments

Earth Day. Earth Week. Earth Month. April has become the month of green marketing. The green bandwagon starts in early April and continues to rise until it crests on Earth Day and then subsides back to its normal green buzz. But has all this hype derailed the purpose of the original Earth Day that started 40 years ago?

Earth Day was inspired much like the feminist movement and gay rights movement, it was a political rally designed to be a day of awakening and recognition led by young people who wanted to make the world aware of what was happening to our environment.  Fast forward 40 years.

Does Earth Day have that same impact? In a year marked by events such as Hopenhagen, can Earth Day stand on its own or is it now just another day of marketing that companies use to launch environmentally conscious products, brands and services because consumers are hyper aware that it is Earth Day? AdAge wrote a great article asking is Earth Day the new Christmas? In it they quoted Maureen O’Connor, publisher of sustainability blog Alternative Consumer, who said the number of green pitches hitting her inbox is just one indication of the amount of noise in the market. “There are so many wannabes, it’s frightening,” she said. “There is such a proliferation of PR efforts that are over the top.”

That is leading some to declare Earth Day an over commercialized event that has lost the cachet that made it so successful in the first place.

I agree with AdAge and Ms. O’Conner, the Earth Day push that focuses solely on hey look at my new green product and throw out your stuff so you can buy my stuff is not what Earth Day is about. However, done right, Earth Day is an opportunity for companies to push change or raise awareness that compliments their marketing initiatives. In the onslaught of news coverage that comes with Earth Day, companies that keep their message positive can gain extra media coverage by timing their launches with the Earth Day message.  Here are some companies that have been successful in their efforts.

Method laundry detergent launched the first triple-concentrated detergent more than five years ago and continues to make industry leading strides in packaging reductions with its new design and new formula.

Hanes new campaign shows children glaring and making faces at a man who has chosen not to wear the brand’s T-shirts made using renewable energy or Eco-Smart socks made from recycled fibers.

Wal-Mart’s new campaign focuses on how their shipping practices save gas, which in turns saves the company money, which in turn rolls back prices for consumers on products like organic t-shirts.

The Toyota Prius became the predominant fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle since its 1997 launch and the unofficial status symbol of eco-consciousness.

For all the good, there is of course the bad. Companies that use Earth Day to merely hoc their wares can get hit with consumer blowback. Earth Day isn’t about just needing a newer greener widget. And technically it was never supposed to be about new stuff. But that story has already been done.

Kimberly Lancaster | newscaster

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