Can advertising be green?
Can consumerism and environmentalism go hand in hand? Paul Polizzotto, Founder of EcoMedia, is out to prove that they can not only work together, but truly benefit one another. Polizzotto started EcoMedia in 2002 with what he calls a “sustainable media” model, seeking to “harness the resource of advertising for our consumers and our environment’s good.” This year, EcoMedia has partnered with the network CBS on EcoAd, a project in which a portion of the money spent on every ad is donated to environmental and clean energy projects.
EcoMedia identifies “stuck” community environmental projects that have 90% of their funding but need just a little bit more to be pushed through, Polizzotto said. EcoMedia donates a portion of the advertiser’s payments to the projects and selects them based on job creation, saved taxpayer costs and emission reduction. The little green leaf on advertisements funding these projects is meant to “show the consumer that their time matters – that the thirty seconds they spend watching this ad is actually doing good,” said Polizzotto. He emphasizes that the EcoAd symbol does not signify anything about the product advertised (“consumers need to do their own homework,” he said) but does indicate that the purchasing of this advertisement was useful to an environmental cause.
Is EcoAd just another instance of “greenwashing” in which a product is associated with environmentalism simply to sell it more? Polizzotto argues that companies would be spending this advertising money anyway, so many have flocked to the chance to also associate themselves with funding environmental work and have thus provided the opportunity for projects to get done that would not otherwise. “I don’t think there is necessary anything green about media itself,” Polizzotto says, “but it can be harnessed to produce crucial projects.”
What do you think? Can advertising be green?