You're Doing it Wrong: Five Earth Day Pitches That Failed

You're Doing it Wrong: Five Earth Day Pitches That Failed

Earth Day is by and large a cheerful, optimistic event, with lots of companies announcing or celebrating really interesting, impactful projects, both internally and externally.
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But as we've bemoaned over and over this week, in the past 7 weeks (aka "Earth Day Season"), we've been inundated with announcements, pitches, queries and "news" of such varying quality, that it can't all be good.

In fact, some of these are just plain wrong.

So, in the spirit of celebrating the full spectrum of the Earth Day experience, we present the worst of the worst of the green-themed announcements from our inboxes. (See here and here for our cheerier, more positive takes on corporate Earth Day activities.)

First Prize: Organic Spa Magazine

This isn't really going to be a ranked list, but one pitch stands head and shoulders above all the other silly pitches, the not-really-green pitches, and everything else that crossed our paths this year. This pitch, from something called "Organic Spa Magazine," really deserves special attention for having missed the mark so completely:

"Go Organic In Time for Earth Day With the New Lauren SPA Collections from Ralph Lauren"

Please, go back and read that line again again. Something about that combination of words makes my blood boil and my eyes burn. It just screams "missing the point" in every imaginable way.

"The Weakest Link" Award


Many of the pitches we've seen definitely stretch the definition of "green," but this one from On-the-Spot Massage takes a well established term and smacks it upside the head:

"Chair massage is the perfect renewable energy source."

I don't think "renewable energy" means what you think it means.

I don't have anything against chair massages, or massages in general, or On-the-Spot in particular, but that line, along with the photo that accompanied the release (copied above), is haunting me.

"The Letter, if not the Spirit, of the Day" Award

Wal-Mart's "greener" Hamburger Helper Twin Pack. Click for big. INSERT ALT TEXT HERE

Wal-Mart is an admirable company -- at least if you're looking at it from a sustainability perspective. I am hard-pressed to come up with a company that's made a bigger shift from not-green to at least semi-green in as short a time, or with the market pull to make such an impact as Wal-Mart.

By and large, the company does a good job with its environmental projects and sustainability initiatives. But here we see an example of something that, while in the most technical way, is "greener" than an alternative product, it sort of misses the true meaning of green.

I suppose that yes, it is in some way greener to buy an extra-large box of Hamburger Helper -- if you're going to eat that much in your lifetime. But that falls pretty far outside my Venn diagram of what constitutes a "green" product in almost every way.

Fortunately, Wal-Mart has put up some Actual Math to help us understand how this is greener:

Hamburger Helper
Claim: If all 200 million Walmart shoppers purchased the new Twin Pack, we could eliminate 4,115 trucks from the road.
• Old Twin Pack: 360 cartons per cube, 60 cubes per truckload
• [200,000,000 customers / (360 cartons per cube x 60 cubes per truck)] = 9,259.26 trucks to move 200MM units
• New Twin Pack: 648 cartons per cube, 60 cubes per truckload
• [200,000,000 customers / (648 cartons per cube x 60 cubes per truck)] = 5,114.03 trucks to move 200MM units
• 9,259.26 trucks – 5,114.03 trucks = 4,115 trucks

"The Going About It Wrong" Award -- In Stereo!

It doesn't take a deep thinker to realize that we're not likely to shop our way out of our many, many environmental problems. But the idea of consuming less is clearly anathema to the American Way of Life, or at least to retail marketers' take on it. So while we got dozens of "buy these green products" pitches this year, these two struck me for hitting my inbox almost simultaneously on Earth Day Morning, and using strikingly similar language:

"Office Depot Urges Businesses to Go Green and Save Green This Earth Day"
"Cost Plus World Market Helps Consumers Save Green While Going Green This Earth Day 2009"

No word on if they've got jumbo-sized Hamburger Helper at either of those locations....

"The Unintentionally On-Target" Award

Throughout this whole "Earth Day / Hour / Week / Month" period of time that began on March 1 for us this year, I've been struck by the similarity between the hype and commercialism around Earth Day and the ever-lengthening time between when holiday sales begin and Dec. 25. So although this pitch was about as off-target as it gets, it is unintentionally on the money:

"Free Solar LED Christmas Lights for Earth Day"

People who shop for X-mas lights on Earth Day should pretty much be required to buy energy-efficient bulbs, as they're the ones who likely leave their lights up from October 15 to March 15, and leave them on all the time...

And that wraps up our list for the year. If you've seen any other hilarious, inappropriate or highly irritating Earth Day pitches, leave them in the comments below.

See you next Earth Day -- it'll start on January 1 next year!