The Lorax: An Accomplice to Greenwashing

photo - brokensimulacra

You’ve probably heard about greenwashing — when a company tries to present itself as “eco-friendly” even though it is questionable at best on the environment. The obvious example: when BP tells you it’s all about moving “Beyond Petroleum”, even though its business remains mostly focused on extracting and refining oil.

Today, advertisers are turning to a much more mischievous kind of greenwashing, with ads that don’t really make any concrete statements. Instead, these ads get you thinking about a set of values and emotions, and associate their brand with those ideas. “Hey,” the advertisers think, “if we don’t really claim anything, no one can say we’re lying.” (See also: McDonald’s latest ads featuring the family farmer who grows their potatoes.)

In that vein, we bring you the worst example of this yet: Mazda’s “Truffula Tree Certification” ad. Take a look:



Since “The Lorax” and its “Truffula Tree Certification” ad are fictional – THEY ARE TOTALLY MADE UP – there are technically no false statements in this ad.

But, it’s pretty clear that Mazda is trying to hop onto the values and emotions most people associate with the Lorax – conserving our resources, sharing what we’ve got on this precious planet, and teaching those values to our children. (See this page for a refresher on the original book.)

Mazda: we’re glad that you’re producing cars with high fuel efficiency. More automakers should. But really? We’re still burning lots of gasoline in these cars. Let’s save the Lorax for a truly green future. And someday, if Mazda is helping preserve trees, cut needless consumption, and create a sustainable economy for all — then, maybe, they can use the Lorax in their ads.

5 thoughts on “The Lorax: An Accomplice to Greenwashing

  1. dorinne

    Both Lorax & Truffla Trees are imaginary. Any one who doesn’t understand that&crys foul because some corporation used it in an advertisement needs
    Professional help! Do you think the ‘King’ in long ago Burger King ad’s ‘believe’
    That actual ‘kings’ ate burgers from Burger King the corporation? Use your energy (no pun intended) on real issues! Really!!!

  2. Jeff Gang

    @Dorinne – You’re right that they’re imaginary. But the feelings the book evokes are real. Lots of people have fond memories of the Lorax — reading it with their family, or learning about it from a favorite teacher. And I don’t want Mazda to take advantage of that.

    But I’ll also keep using my energy on bigger, concrete issues too. So thanks!

  3. Pingback: Big win for rainforests: Activists push Disney to better paper policy « The Green Life Online

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