The other day on the tube, I saw an ad for a new 50% recycled range of pens from Pentel. It showed a photo of a polar bear stranded on melting ice. Next to the polar bear in distress, there were cartoon ice bergs and ice caps drawn by Pentel pens. The implication was that buying these pens could help stop global warming, halt the melting of the ice caps, and save the poor polar bear. It was only missing a tearful Sally Struthers.
Pentel’s move to 50% recycled content is a pretty big step (particularly at the same consumer price). But they flubbed the story. By promising an unrealistic connection between their product news and the global warming epidemic, they come across as completely phony.
Pentel isn’t alone. That tube car was filled with ads in the same eco-preachy vein, as were the tube stations, as were the billboards outside.
I think it turns off consumers more than it turns them on. And can lead to them not doing anything. Or worse, like my cartoon this week.
Contrast Pentel’s story with that of Remarkable, a little brand that simply promises to "recycle UK waste and make it into exciting, fun, and innovative products".
I then came across a great AdAge article with 7 Steps to Avoid Eco Fatigue. One interesting quote: "Green is a fad. Sustainability is continual improvement."
The article also mentioned another good reference point from Patagonia, called The Footprint Chronicles.