Eco Advertising: The Paradox – By @isabellelj1

By Isabelle Johnson


Eco Advertising: The Paradox


Eco-friendly is big business. Brands are cultivating a more environmentally friendly and overtly morally grounded image. But is this all about sales rather than the environment. The more product and higher sales = more growth for the company. The paradox is this means more waste created shipping, packaging and an increase in emissions. It is easy to be cynical. Growing public concern with impending natural disasters facing our world, means brands are brushing up on their green credentials in order to win the advertising wars but do they really want to make a change. 

Many cultural factors have contributed to the sudden surge in interest in the environment. Sir David Attenborough’s natural world documentaries have helped raise the profile on the dangers the environment is facing. We’re seeing an increasing number of people becoming vegan. And with the recent Extinction Rebellion protests forcing London to a standstill and the government promising but failing to act, it seems that the issues can be used for brands own ends.

Take patagonia for example : by positioning themselves as anti- consumerist and pro environment, Patagonia increased their sales by 40%. But paradoxically the outdoor industry’s success means a decline in the natural world that their consumers seek to experience with adventure tourism booming and more eco-tourists visiting remote places.

Lego is changing its brand could be seen as an effort to combat falling sales. It is stepping up its efforts to tackle the current plastic crisis, in 2018 Lego launched its own blocks made from sugarcane. The Danish toy giant released a range of plant-shaped bricks named ‘Plants from plants’ as part of an overarching brand eco-overhaul.

Upping the ante on their sustainability factor, Swedish flat-pack furniture maker Ikea has made some changes to their products.Recently Ikea pledged to use only recyclable materials in its textiles by 2020, highlighting the effectiveness of recycling and up-cycling materials. This homeware giant was one of the first brands to completely eliminate straws from all its bistros and restaurants, banning single-use plastic. To solidify the company’s commitment to its sustainability goals, Ikea has immortalized its ‘Last straw’ on display The Design Museum, London.

The French sportswear brand Lacoste made a clever move to grab attention for environmental issues in 2018 when it released a line of polo shirts to reflect the plummeting populations of endangered animals.

Replacing the brand’s iconic crocodile logo with a 10 creatures that are on the brink of extinction, the brand claimed it wanted to raise awareness of these endangered animals. All profits from the 1775 polo shirts on sale were donated to IUCN in a bid to help them protect these endangered species. But in the process it also significantly raised the profile of the brand and gave it edginess.

It would be good to believe that these brands are upping their green credentials for the right reasons but given the paradoxical impact on sales and with this the inevitable increase in carbon footprint as more product is shipped worldwide, its hard not to be just a little bit cynical.

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