Are you purchasing nature or a natural product? Time and time again, companies are using nature and green washing to add more appeal in the promotions of their products. One company I have come into contact with that is successful in falsely advertises the “go green” are The Dead Sea America, Inc. products – specifically Avani and L’Aveu. Having worked for a direct advertising agency that helped promote the product, I have seen firsthand how companies such as this use the green washing gimmick to promote their products.
The Dead Sea America Inc. has a plethora of cosmetics, facials, and body scrub products, all claiming to obtain salt ingredients from the Dead Sea, though they are solely based and obtain most of their ingredients right in California. Though this is not yet a huge consumer product line or Fortune 500 company, it is a company on the rise that falsely advertises the “go green” initiative.
So what is driving companies to “go green” or to at least appear to be going green?
Money and the “natural” appeal to consumers. The “go green” initiative has taken off in the past decade due to political factors such a global warming and social factors concerning the necessity for all to take care of the environment. Most of us know of the small pop-up stands we see in the malls with reps promoting many different brands of skincare products from the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea products use canny marketing schemes to promote their “all natural” and “medical grade products,” though it has not been proven. One of their sketchier advertising tactics is that they created two products with almost the exact same formula, though they put the two in different bottles – Avani and L’Aveu. People love to buy into ‘natural’ products without looking into them, and is what this company banks on. They set up their kiosks with beautiful pictures of the Dead Sea (seen below), switch around between the two products every few months at the same stores to get a ‘fresh look’ on the shelves.
What can the consumer do?
Educate themselves. Read into a products ingredients and reviews before buying – especially with a topical or cosmetic product that will be absorbed by the body! A lot of these products can have adverse effects on the body and as well cause allergic reactions. Don’t waste your money on impulse buys or companies that only show you the face value of their product. Most of these products can be useless, do more harm than good, and also burn holes in your wallet.
I know many see environmental PR as a way large companies can pay public relations firms to cover up their mess and tell the public that what they are doing or creating is environmentally friendly, but that is not the goal. Environmental PR is what I aim to do with my life, and the reason for that is because I know there are many companies out there that are good guys. Many people question them however – “is the production eco-friendly?” is something people always ask. If it is not advertised as being so, that doesn’t always mean the answer is no. I spoke with a parent of a friend who’s job is to come up with marketing strategies for these struggling companies to PROVE to the public that their production is eco-friendly. Often times, these companies do not know or do not have anyone who knows how to effectively communicate to the public that what they are doing in their offices or their factories is not harming our environment. One example he gave me was Timberland. His company was involved with the creation of the Green Index marketing campaign launched by Timberland to communicate to the public how eco-friendly their products are. Under each Timberland product, the consumer will see a green index, indicating to them how eco-friendly that pair of boots, t-shirt, etc. is.
This is massively important to the producer and the consumer. Many people will pass on purchasing a product because they simply don’t know how it’s made. If a company can effectively communicate how their product is made and how eco-friendly that production is to the consumer, they are already one step ahead of the game, because right now that battle is something every large company is facing and it is important to hire PR firms not to “cover your ass” but to help you communicate to the public how what you are doing is not harming our environment. Sure, there are some bad guys out there who want to pay people to lie to the public, but I like to go to bed at night thinking that those people are a minority. Peace and love everyone.
Public relations have always been a very tricky subject in terms of what you’re told/advertised, and what is actually given to you. This latest organic, green, and all natural kick that our culture is on seems to be driving a ‘Green PR’ movement across the country within all sorts of businesses. But, can we really blame businesses for doing nothing more than protecting their bottom line? We all understand that profit is the single driving force when you see a gigantic corporation, so in my eyes it should come as no surprise that some of these businesses are happily willing to lie if that means a boost in sales for the quarter.
I feel instead of railing against corporations and businesses who are obviously selling fraud, people should look towards making companies more transparent. It seems like a vague concept, but it is not hard to see evidence of this radical transparency happening all around us –especially over the internet–. Crowdsourcing is now a real phenomenon and in an age of information, transparency garners trust. If you choose to pull the wool over people’s eyes then the chances of your business radically failing seem to be higher than ever before. If someone has an issue with your product, then it doesn’t take long for subreddit’s, blogs, youtubers, along with all forms of social media to pick up on it and transform what was once a thriving business to dust overnight. I truly feel that the best way to combat fraudulent PR and this fake “green PR” campaign is to simply push for more and more transparency through the one tool that enables it, the internet. People are becoming more and more empowered as we are given the tools to sift through the nonsensical advertising and false claims. It seems to me that its only a matter of time before the cream rises to the top.
GE, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS, as we discussed in class, these guys control 90% of Americas media. That was news to me, I mean with the amount of media outlets around I really would not have imagined that almost all were in the hands 6 companies. Another startling statistic that was brought up in class was the ratio on how many media executives (who manipulate the media) to the consuming populace, 1 to 850,000. Just to put it in perspective that is about the population of Indianapolis. That being said media, something we almost religiously consume, is held in very few hands. That just seems like a little crooked to me and that they have the power to manipulate and filter what is released, most likely for their benefit. It is almost as if companies, a small number of them at that, are able to protect their own interests at our expense. This is not necessarily all news to me, I knew that media outlets were owned by other companies, but I did not realize just how many. Those few carry a lot of influence that can be used to their favor.
Moving forward into green and how it is released into the media. We discussed three ways organizations get the “green” word out, one being Video News Releases. These releases are put out to the majority of the newsrooms across the nation, and are done so without sources.
Fishy stuff, food for thought, research what the media feeds you.
It seems like the more we talk about all of the greenwashing and fake green products that there is a more noticeable technique being used by the companies that use these tactics. Companies now are hiring people with the specific goal to make sure there product is advertised and displayed in the best light and as the best product while pulling the wool over our eyes. We learned about green PR people who are there to make the image of a company better therefore gaining the trust of more and more people adnd selling more of their product. This is helpful and awesome for companies that truly have green hopes and want to improve their products and improve the earth. But, unfortunate a lot of these green press people are their to falsely boost a company whos only intentions are to maximize profit. If we can educate more people about the products that they are buying than maybe we will not be fooled so easily and help the actual good companies thrive.
In lecture I learn so many different and new things pertaining to communications. Some of the things I learn are ideas I already consciously knew about and others are things that are unconscious or ideas I never payed attention to. Public relations happens to be an unconscious idea that I have. I knew companies used public relation, but I did not know to what extent they go to manipulate and persuade the people to hopefully change the idea and views the population has.
When it pertains to greenwashing, it always amazes me how so many companies have been and continue to use these different methods to manipulate and distract us from the actual problems we question and are concerned with. I just do not understand how a company can be so “For the people and for the citizens” but treat us as if they could not care less about our questions and concerns or that fact that we are not happy with what they are doing. Instead of changing the aspects we do not like, they trick us into something else to take our attention off of the actual problem which takes the heat off of their company for a while.
Something that really struck me from lecture last Tuesday were the greenwashing strategies of different companies. The Keep American Beautiful nonprofit organization, which was founded and sponsored by Coca-Cola, specifically interested me because when I was younger, any project I was with that infamous picture I made sure to through away because I felt as thought I was making a difference. Now that I have acquired more knowledge I know this organization was really using greenwashing strategies to try and market their campaign. Saying the individuals are the cause of pollution just takes the attention off the company and their contribution to pollution. Even with the recycling of their products those items are still sent off to some kind of landfill where they sit and eventually become waste. Manipulation like this seems so minute, but it really does have great impacts and effects on individuals and the environment.
One of the fastest growing industries in our nation is called Green PR. This is where a company hires a PR firm in order to change their image to being more green. I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds pretty sketchy. If a company has to hire someone to make themselves appear green, then they must not be very green in the first place. Also, if they were hiring a company to make them actually green and not just so they look good to the general public, that would be awesome! Maybe it shouldn’t be an industry of creating facades, but rather an industry that changes the way people and companies see how they are affecting the environment. Maybe our generation should build “PR” companies that actually change the way businesses work and help them create processes that have less of a carbon footprint. The engineers of today are capable of doing these things and I think there’s a real need for it. Our professor touched on it in class the other day, we are the ones who have to make the change and stand up for our generation. These companies and the people that run them will be dead by the time what they’re doing has an effect on this world. We have to stand up to them and say we won’t take it. It should be illegal to poison the earth the way they are, and I think a “Green Renovation” company could solve this. Almost like the EPA, but these companies are hired on to find and change the things that are polluting the earth, not just slapping fines on institutions. We have to help them change, because they aren’t going to do it on their own. Their going to mask their issues to seem like they’re in line nd we are the ones who have to keep a watch over them.