Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mixed messages in marketing mayhem

I remember the book The Lorax from my own childhood, when I had taped environmental posters to my bedroom wall and took out a youth membership in the World Wildlife Fund with my allowance.

Yes, I was that kind of rockin' eleven-year-old.

The book paints a pretty dark picture of what happens when our rampant consumerism  - our thneeds, if you will - gets the better of us.  None of us is without blame, and all of us can do better to restrain our desire for stuff, and let the earth get a breath now and then.  The best part of the message from the book was that no matter how bad things got, if one person cared enough, it could get a little bit better over time.  And maybe, just maybe, the Lorax would come back.

There are some areas where we have made some progress.  Water quality in many areas is better, and air pollution in some cities has improved.  So we have a ways to go, but we seek change over time and not an instant turn around.  Stewart Brand's groundbreaking book, Clock Of The Long Now, preaches patience in our world view, and I believe him when he says the planet will recover just fine given enough time, whether we humans are here to see it or not.  I also believe that if we want humans on the planet to witness the recovery, we perhaps should make some changes.

The Lorax was created to speak for the trees.  Trees don't have particularly aggressive public relations strategies, and are notoriously bad at updating their Twitter feeds.  Usurping that vision to speak for seventy product tie-ins is the worst example of ignoring a brand and an audience I can think of since Susan G. Komen paired up with KFC.  So what is my response as a consumer when I see a product brand I have purchased in the past now splattered with a "Endorsed by the Lorax" banner?

I switch brands.

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