Apple Changes MacBook Ads After Dell Challenges on Greenwashing


Image via Apple screengrab

Well, Dell finally can do a little victory dance. Sort of. Dell has been after Apple for awhile now, challenging that the company greenwashes its line of MacBooks. Now Dell has made a little progress in its quest for green computer cred domination - the latest challenge by Dell against how Apple phrases its ads has resulted in Apple doing a tiny rephrase. The Better Business Bureau recommended, and Apple conceded, that the tagline "The World's Greenest Family of Notebooks" needed to be changed to "The World's Greenest Lineup of Notebooks."

Did you have to read twice to notice the difference?

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Dell's complaints, according to a report published by the Bureau's National Advertising Division, include Apple's reference to its gold ratings by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT -- ratings Dell said it and other PC makers have also received.

It also pointed out four "pillars" in Apple's MacBook ads -- recyclability, reduced packaging, less toxic materials and increased energy efficiency -- and claimed that "Apple must, but does not, establish superiority over all of its competitors in all four pillars to support its broad superiority claim...many competing laptops offer the same characteristics it cites as the basis of superiority (e.g., recyclability)."

Well, everyone knows Dell is working really hard at being top dog at recycling computers and electronics. So there's no way it was going to let Apple win on that front, and apparently the angle worked. Sort of. While "lineup" doesn't have the same warm fuzzy ring as "family," the tagline still gets the point across, and makes, um, probably no difference among consumers. So, why change "family" at all?

But [NAD] got hung up on the use of "family," which it said could refer to one product line or all the products made by a manufacturer, and suggested Apple tweak its "world's greenest family of notebooks" slogan "to make clearer that the basis for the comparison is between all MacBooks to all of the notebooks manufactured by any given competitor."

Ok, sure. They have a point, though a very splitting-hairs one, considering the ad says it's a family "of notebooks" and not "of electronics." Really, it's a victory for Apple in that the report basically confirms that the entire lineup of notebooks is indeed the "greenest" (by EPEAT standards...) by letting it keep the important parts of the tagline when it comes to getting eco-minded consumers to latch on to the products.

It is very interesting to note just how far companies will go when it comes to trying to be recognized as the greenest, leading to keeping sharp eyes on other companies. So, will this kind of drive lead towards a self-imposed greenwash alert within the industry? We could be so hopeful, but we've caught Dell more than once using greenwashing. So, we still can't let up on our own due diligence when looking to buy "green" electronics.

More on Dell, Apple and Greenwashing
Apple Says No to Publishing Sustainability Report
Dell's Stance on Not Exporting e-Waste Is Not Heroic
Greenpeace Says PCs May Have to Follow Apple's Footsteps
Dell Says Apple is Greenwashing Its Gear

Tags: Corporate Responsibility | Electronics | Greenwashing

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