Is Earth Day the New Christmas?

We didn't think it was possible for Corporate America to co-op and monetize Earth Day, but then again, previous generations probably thought the same about Christmas. Or, in the words of an Advertising Age op-ed: "It's nearly Earth Day: Time to consume more to save the planet. "

Much hue and cry has surrounded Wal-Mart's sudden eco-friendly makeover, but it certainly isn't the lone marketing behemoth exploiting a post-Inconvenient Truth nation's fears. Equally unlikely Earth Day champions now include JCPenney, which recently partnered with green-lifestyle expert Danny Seo to create its "Simply Green" home and fashion line; Banana Republic, which, in addition to launching an "eco" line, will donate 1 percent of sales from April 22 through April 27 to benefit the Trust for Public Land; as well as Macy's, which will offer 10 percent to 20 percent off most merchandise the weekend of April 26 in exchange for a $5 donation to the National Park Foundation. Meanwhile, Clorox, which owns the Brita brand of water filters, is flexing its nascent green conscience by helping NBC's The Biggest Loser eliminate its use of plastic water bottles from the show's campus. Of course, with the season finale slated for Earth Day, the brand will be throwing quite a marketing hootenanny to publicize its role in the TV program. We wouldn't expect anything less.

While you can put no price on raising awareness, one question remains: Does turning Earth Day into a marketing blitz promote the cause or contribute to green fatigue? While many ongoing Earth Day campaigns offer some token reflection on the state of the planet, it's obvious that many companies are doing so merely to drive up sales in a climate of reduced consumer spending. Until the Federal Trade Commission reviews its green-marketing guidelines, which were last updated in 1998, well, corporate giants can paint the town—and the sweatshops they continue to operate—any shade of green they want. Feliz navidad. ::Advertising Age

Tags: Earth Day

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