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CMNS223W - Green Marketing and the Commodity Self
Transcript of CMNS223W - Green Marketing and the Commodity Self
Robert Goldman & Stephan Papson
What is Green Marketing?
Green marketing is an advertising/marketing strategy that attaches notions of environmentally safe or green friendly themes onto products
Majority of the time, these products do not live up to their claims
According to Goldman & Papson:
advertising has helped to create a social world in which identity is expressed through the consumption of commodity signs
lead to increasing pressure on environmental resources to keep up with consumption patterns
How did this phenomenon begin?
- prompted by growth of the environmental movement over the years
- increasing awareness that overconsumption lead to environmental destruction & people began to criticize advertising for encouraging these consumption patterns
advertising responded by developing "green advertising"
appropriated signifiers from nature and transforming them into commodity signs
offering "thoughtful consumption"
Goldman & Papson argues that.......
"Green marketing relegitimates consumption by buffering corporate practices from criticism and by alleviating the guilt associated with overconsumption by creating a distinction between good consumption and bad consumption"
- modern advertising uses nature as a referent system to derive signifiers for constructing signs
often uses nature landscapes to signify exerpeiences/qualities that urban life could not provide
disguises both the artificial & negative characteristis of commodities by presenting idealized images of consumption and not acknowledging relations of production
nature usually regarded as the main subject- the product and corporation spoken in terms of their impact or affection towards the environment
Example: Evian Ad
in green campaigns commodities are positioned as environmentally friendly and corporations as caring, concerned citizens actively involved in a leadership role to save the environment
reposition commodities whose production and consumption may be damaging to the environment as earth friendly -- relegitimizes commodity consumption as it places green consumers and environmentally conscious corporations on the same high moral ground
ultimately serves the needs of capital by legitimating consumption patterns and corporate power
- featured lengthy monologue about their environmental concerns in their catalog that was printed on recycled paper
- talked about consumer alienation from the "out of control economic system" and even raises questions about over consumption
- HOWEVER: contradictory because the fashion industry is ultimately a business that is profit oriented and fashion is built upon the principle or waste or conspicuous consumption
Aritzia's community brand
based on being environmentally friendly
parka emphasizes that it is made out of organic resources
helps to alleviate guilt for consumers who want to be environmentally friendly
wide spread popular acceptance for recycling - allows many opportunities for corporations to look pro environment
boasts biodegradable packaging, less chemicals
but: a lot of chemicals required to make laundry detergent
companies actually dont need to list ingredients so consumers don't really know if they are as eco friendly as they say
Green advertising works because it offers eco-friendly solutions to consumers that do not require them to change their lifestyle
green advertising aims at stimulating demand for a product
BUT: ultimately promotes obselescence
buy buying the new environmentally friendly product, your old product goes to the dump
1) expand market shares by using green respect as a sign to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers
2) Position companies as socially and environmentally responsible
ex: corporations that donate portion of proceeds to organizations that work to perserve environment
Two Agendas to greening product lines
ex: Sierra Club Visa Card
legitimates consumption as earth protecting strategy
consuming with purpose
1) establish strong lobbyist presence
2) support front groups that take on names that appear to signify environmental concern to subvert legislation
3) advertising: locus of public relations campaigns aimed to neutralize public support for environmentalist legislations
Steps to legitimize environmental ads:
legitimation by association
environmental associations possess high sign value
by associating with corporations organizations get a little capital and publicity/free mention while the corporate firm draws on moral currency of supporting just and popular cause
CocaCola + World Wildlife Fund
The Spectacle of Nature:
- nature in ads represent a foreign exotic locations that untouched by human activity
-dont show pollution or how corporates behave with environment
ex: Anheuser-Busch x Sea world = didnt show caged conditions of animals
Relying on Science
ex: Du Pont Oil and Gas
slogan: "the miracles of science"
over exaggeration of double hull ships
highest ratio of pollution to profit and lowest value of sales generated per pound of pollution
foster idea that corporatesXscience can construct an even better nature
Another strategy includes:
using voices of employees to legitimize the company's environmental actions
advertising legitimates lifestyles based on overconsumption by hailing and naming consumers as environmentally aware and encouraging consumption as a environmentally positive action
green ads can marginally increase awareness
ultimately clouds and glosses over corporations environmentally harming actions
Solutions: call for a consumer society built on decentralized production, reconstruction of socialized self and non consumption atrategies
1) What is your take on green advertising? do you think that companies are actually trying to be more environmentally responsible or is it ultimately a sales ploy?
2) Since it seems as if green ads are a very common
strategy of advertising in contemporary society, do you think that it is still effective in encouraging consumption and utilized for identity construction?