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EcoAds not so misleading after all

A few weeks back, I wrote a blog questioning the validity of EcoMedia-CBS Corp.’s new EcoAd program. I suggested that EcoAds may be yet another example of greenwashing, a not-so-honest way for not-so-green companies to cash in on the green hype. Paul Polizzotto, the founder and president of EcoMedia (now owned by CBS) didn’t like my blog. And he told me as much.

When I first heard that Paul wanted to speak with me, I was thrilled that the NewHope360 blog had caught CBS’s attention, and I figured I must’ve been spot-on with my assessments if he felt it necessary to try to change my mind as quickly as possible. But it only took a few minutes of conversation with Paul for me to begin pondering whether I’d been right after all or I’d jumped the gun.

I will say that, since this is a new program just being launched, and I hadn’t yet viewed an EcoAd, I was relying on information that, in my opinion, didn’t paint EcoMedia in the best light. To me, the explanation of the program read like hollow-ish marketing hype, claiming many wondrous results without much explanation—not too different from other “green” initiatives I’d seen before.

But my conversation with Paul was actually quite inspiring and—I’ll take a knee here—truly did cause me to change my opinion. First off, he didn’t agree with my greenwashing accusation, of course, but he appreciated that I questioned his program’s motives and had sparked a dialogue—which I in turn appreciated. He explained that environmentalism has been his “life’s work” and that he’d never seen himself working in media (not that a long-time media career would make him “un-green”)—so for him, eco initiatives aren’t a recent adoption in attempt to build business.

Paul also told me that, unlike I had suggested in my blog, not just any company can hop aboard the EcoAd train. Potential advertisers must meet certain sustainability criteria and prove their eco mettle in order to qualify, regardless of how much money they’re willing to plunk down on ads. It seems EcoMedia has already turned away a few deep-pocketed possibilities.

But again, my main concern was whether the programs aims would be adequately explained and whether the viewing public would get it. Well, on Saturday, while watching my beloved Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball squad get trounced by Purdue on CBS’s national stage, I saw my first EcoAd. Rather, I saw an ad for an EcoAd. You can check it out online. I gotta say, it was attention grabbing, visually pleasing, clear in its message and not really confusing at all.

The spot clearly explained that money spent on the advertisement—the vehicle that delivers the message—and not the advertising company, was responsible for creating green jobs, completing community projects and conserving energy. I wholly understood it the first time I saw it. And even though I’m hypersensitive to green claims and likely spend more time pondering their validity more frequently than most, I’m pretty sure most anyone watching will get EcoMedia’s message, too. 

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