A brace of articles in last week's Advertising Age magazine discuss how major advertisers and even television networks are turning up the interest in environmental issues. In one story, TV advertisers are starting top pay attention to how much waste their video and film shoots generate:
in the 12 hours it would take to nail the shot of the girl eating Oreos and shoot two other 15-second spots, hundreds of pounds of commercial-production waste was gathered to be recycled or composted. That's due to a partnership between Target, which says it has incorporated environmental sustainability into its business strategy for more than three decades, and EcoSet Consulting. The 2-year-old North Hollywood, Calif.-based firm focuses on greening commercial, TV and film sets and is now working with Target on 90% of the retailer's commercials.... Since spring 2009, Target and EcoSet claim to have diverted 100,016 pounds from landfills, which is 85% of all waste generated by Target's broadcast shoots in Los Angeles. Some 35,400 plastic water bottles have been replaced by reusable bottles and reusable materials have been donated to more than 85 nonprofits and community organizations. Costumes have been donated to families in need and a swing set removed from a location for aesthetic reasons was donated to a children's center, for example. Even a 600-pound foam watering can find a second life as an art installation at a flower show.
Advertising shoots generate a lot of waste:
Similarly, 280 pounds, or 88% of waste from a one-day Honda CR-V shoot last summer was diverted, according to data provided by EcoSet and Honda agency Rubin Postaer Associates, or RPA. At that shoot, walkie-talkies were charged using a solar-powered charging station and discarded gels, duvetyne and cinefoil (black materials used to absorb light on shoots) were donated to students at the American Film Institute.
In a second, CBS has introduced its "EcoAd program," which on the surface of things seems ripe for greenwashing:
Marketers who commit to this sort of promotion can purchase ad packages across CBS's various holdings -- national and local TV, radio, outdoor, online and more -- with the understanding that approximately 10% of the money committed to the sponsorship will be used to fund environmental-improvement efforts at the local level. At present, the advertisers who have signed up -- clients include General Motors' Chevrolet, SunPower, O Organics, Boston Scientific, Pacific Coast Termite, Port of Los Angeles and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers -- have purchased advertising that will be seen at the local level, not on CBS's broadcast-TV network. But the media company has hopes of capturing national advertising....
To signal that a marketer's ads are part of the program, CBS will air ads that are part of its "EcoAd" effort with a green-leaf logo for TV, interactive and outdoor advertising and an audio identifier on radio.
I think it's a good idea, and at least a step in the right direction, but without some sort of oversight, it seems obvious that the most heinous polluter or eco-foe can buy a so-called EcoAd, donate a few bucks to a local e-cause, get a leaf logo, and be perceived as "green." Let's hope CBS—and any other network that takes this kind of path—practices a little due diligence.