Have you noticed a trend towards going green in advertising? Many companies are doing it. Presumably it’s a marketing exercise to cash in on environmental concerns that are popular (and rightly so) right now with many people.

But you can’t be what you are not just by running some ads.

I saw a big industrial garbage truck the other day; you know the ones that pick-up and dump the large bins. There was a big sign on the side saying how they were a green garbage company. Apparently when some of their private dumps were full, they put dirt on top and planted some trees. Sorry but that never worked on my mom when she told me to clean my room and its not fooling anyone else. Garbage is a messy business and you can make improvements in the handling, but garbage is garbage.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not picking on the garbage disposal companies. If they are improving their business practices to reduce environmental impact, that’s good. They are merely filling a demand created by other people; they are not creating the garbage.

A big box store is now advertising on TV how they are reducing energy consumption by adding insulation to the roofs of their buildings in an effort to go green. The reality is that wasting energy is expensive these days and they are doing it to reduce costs.

Part of what my business does is software development. Now software is the ultimate recyclable. Don’t like your software, uninstall it and install something else in its place. The ones and zeros are fully interchangeable at any time with nearly zero wastage. I don’t think I will include that in our advertising.

The point of this discussion:

  • You can’t fool the world or your customers by creating a marketing message that is incompatible with what you really are, at least not for long.
  • Being a good corporate citizen should be an entry level requirement.
  • Focus on who you really are and the real value to your customers, not the latest trend.
  • If you don’t think your customers will like the real you, consider changing.