It's not even Earth Day yet and already the airwaves, Web sites, and even some print publications are filled with environmentally themed corporate messages. Makes me want to puke.
It’s fitting that Earth Day falls on Good Friday this year because the mobs of green-themed ads are really crucifying the truth.
Don’t get me wrong: I admire the sustainability efforts of some companies. But they don’t seem to be the ones that are pumping out the Earth Day propaganda.
Some of the ads remind me of the window envelope (from a company you have heard of) that had a recycling logo and the words, “Printed on recyclable paper.” Recyclable paper! What will they think of next?!
There was no note explaining that you should tear off the plastic window before recycling the envelope. Or an explanation of why, if the company was so green, it was using paper that had the bejeesus bleached out of it for an envelope the customer neither wanted nor needed.
What we need is a dose of reality therapy (despite my stoner friend’s warning that “Reality is a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs.”) How about some truly honest environmentally themed ads and corporate communications, like these five?:
1) Bank statement insert
Headline: Go paperless. It’s all about green.
Copy: Let’s be honest – there’s nothing especially earth friendly about getting your bank statements via the coal-fired Internet rather than printed on something made from renewable resources. And, unlike paper, your home computer is not recyclable -- unless your idea of recycling is some Chinese kid picking through the innards to find some resellable scraps amidst the toxic metals.
But going paperless really is about green. Yep, green is the color of the money we save on printing, paper, and postage costs every time someone switches to online banking. (Not to mention that we no longer have to worry about them suing us for invasion of privacy from nosy Myrtle in the mailroom peaking at their spending habits.) It’s not like the bank is about to go broke, but the First Quarter really sucked, and unless we can turn things around there won’t be any management bonuses this year.
That’s right, management bonuses. We deserve them. Here at Community Bank we kept our noses clean and didn’t buy any derivatives we didn’t understand. C’mon, have you read about the size of the bonuses those big-city banks pay their CMO-peddling managers? No wonder they needed the feds to bail them out! It really pisses us off to hear about those big-bank swindlers with their yachts and trophy wives and mistresses when all we can afford are canoes and an occasional lunch at Hooters. Please go paperless so Community Bank can be a little greener.
2) A TV ad for Starburgers, an imaginary burger chain started by Starbucks
The scene: A clown figure who looks a lot like Ronald McDonald is talking to a group of kids and their parents.
Ronald: “… and look, these napkins contain 30 percent recycled fiber.”
Kid at a table, holding a half-eaten hamburger: “But where do we put them?”
Ronald: “Whaddya mean?
Kid: “Where do we put the unused napkins when we’re done with them? And what about the paper bags and the cups and the wrappers?”
Ronald: “Good question. We want to keep the restaurant clean for other boys and girls, so we always throw our trash into the garbage can.”
Kid: “Why not into a recycling bin? I don’t see a recycling bin anywhere.”
Ronald: "But we do lots of recycling. We recycle our menu items, our slogans, and even our spokesclown."
Kid: "But where do we put the paper? You’re spouting all this Earth Day bullshit and then you tell us to throw our paper into the garbage. (Starts crying) “Wah! Now I’ll be a polluter and feel like I’m drowning polar bears every time Mom brings me here. Wah!”
Ronald (exasperated): “Kid, gimme a break. You can’t recycle that crap!”
Kid: “Starburgers does. Starburgers has recycling bins in every restaurant. Starburgers has been recycling drinking cups since back when they were just Starbucks. And their burgers taste like real beef, not this cardboard crap.” (Slams down his burger on the table.)
Announcer: “Starburgers: Tasty beef. Earth friendly. No bullshit.”
3) Obama re-election video ad running on green Web sites
Scene: President Obama speaking from the Oval Office
Obama's Message: "For almost four years, I’ve done nothing about the environment. That’s right, nothing. No more deregulation of toxic industries. No more weakening of the EPA. No more drilling in environmentally sensitive areas. (OK, so the BP thing happened on my watch, but that was Bush’s fault.) Sure, I wanted to actually do something positive for the environment but just never got around to it. I did talk about cap and trade, but when that ran into some criticism my team just didn’t have the cojones to see it through. Renewable energy? Well, we had to give that money to the paper companies in the form of black liquor credits or our healthcare legislation wouldn’t have passed.
"But, face it, voting for us is your only option. After all, we’re your kind of people. We shed a tear when we see a polar bear drowning. The other party? They want to serve polar bear burgers for school lunches. (OK, Boehner cries when the polar bear drowns, but he cries at everything.) Half of those nut cases on the other side of the aisle think Google is evil because they heard it was run by Al Gore-isms [accent on the first syllable, like “algorithms”].
"You certainly don’t want to put those people in charge. So vote for four more years of nothingness."
4) General Electric message to shareholders
Our Ecomagination campaign continues to yield healthy growth and huge profit margins. Hell, if we’d known we could rake in so many bucks just by slapping a cute label on what we were already selling and doing, we would never have gotten so deep into the money-laundering – I mean financial services – business.
Some of you have wondered whether the campaign means we’re going to take responsibility for all those PCBs we dumped into the Hudson River. Ha, ha, ha, you’re ecomagining things.
We’re not going to waste your money on such do-gooder efforts. After all, not a single share of GE stock is owned by a striped bass!
5) Magazine ad for “Naturals” baby wipes
Image: A woman is changing a baby’s diaper. Behind her is an excited-looking man holding a large bottle of laundry bleach that he’s about to pour on the baby’s bottom.
Quotation: The man is saying, “I know, let’s use this bleach to get the baby’s butt really clean!”
Copy: Of course you wouldn’t pour chlorine bleach onto your baby’s bottom. So why would you use baby wipes containing chlorine bleach? Naturals is the only brand of baby wipes that hasn’t been bleached. Unlike other baby wipes, they’re made with a process that doesn’t pollute the waterways. And they’re easy on baby’s skin. Yeah, they look a little dingy, but don’t all baby wipes end up looking pretty nasty anyway? Especially yours – my god, what have you been feeding that kid? So do you really need baby wipes that are whiter than a movie star’s teeth when they're going to end up covered in that green slime?
Naturals Baby Wipes. Good for the fish, good for baby’s butt.
Now you know why publishers won't let us production people talk to the advertisers.
If you actually made it through all five of these ads, your sense of humor is so strange that you might actually enjoy last year's offbeat Earth Day message: Condoms to the Rescue, and 5 Other Novel Ideas for Saving the Forests.