19 Mar Advertising in the time of Environmental Crisis: What is our response to the conundrum?
Are we waiting for a trigger?
Nothing can shake us out of our wits. Except for a sudden earthquake that might wipe us out in huge numbers. Natural calamities and man-made wars that tend to shift the course of history has had its bad memories imprinted on our collective consciousness since time immemorial.
However, the smog hanging above our heads ready to throttle our very existence escape our everyday attention. After all, we are in this together. If the government and the environment control are taking it less seriously, why should you and I care so much about it, right?
We’ll invent and circulate better, more nuanced, futuristic products that would help resist the wrath of environmental crisis. Sorted.
Anti-pollution masks, chemicals to boost immunity, more air purifiers, etc. products to help us thrive as a consumerist culture to further our “heroic” feats and wear the badge of glory like in a desperate fool’s paradise. As a result, the economic scenario shall continue to push the poor to the brink of extinction as the affordability of such products are beyond their reach, and us, stalwarts functioning within air-conditioned parallel universes, will eventually follow suit with health hazards and fatal consequences befalling us.
Is it a dystopian glimpse? Umm, sorry bruh…it’s the present. We are in it already. And it’s going to be so much fun dying.
Well, the problem is looming large and can’t be undone. If only ignoring a problem would mean it doesn’t exist.
It’s time for brands to step outside their narcissism and do something. While advertising has been about making people happier, offering hopeful pills through path-breaking inventions, assigning meaning to an otherwise dull existence, the agenda now has to change.
We have a responsibility towards humanity. Every little step counts. Brands are now coming up with eco-friendly products. Sanitary napkins that don’t use plastic anymore, paper mugs and paper/jute bags, biodegradable products, rechargeable batteries, pencils with vegetable/fruit seeds, et al are such little acts of courage and foresight which require the support of advertising to connect with a wider audience.
It is equally important to make the audience aware of these changes that the advertising industry would be ready to make. Replacing our complacency in choosing products to turn into brands with thoughtful willingness and purposeful branding. People are comfortable buying as we are comfortable selling. It’s this little bubble that’s about to be popped for good. Pavan Sukhdev, in his book Corporation 2020 addresses “responsible advertising” wherein he proposes a communication strategy for marketers to tell consumers about the product as to what material has been used to build it and if it is recyclable rather than just alerting buyers to fat, sugar, and salt.
“The future of the earth is worth more than a marketing ploy”, says Erin Lyons on ‘Marketing Week’. As an establishment, we need to introduce this ripple and re-work on our totalitarian stance of building a business. And this requires to be backed up with a wider strategy so that brands can avoid being accused of cashing in from the situation or sounding merely preachy. For instance, Volvo has decided that 25% of the plastic used in newly launched cars will be made from recycled materials from 2025. On the other hand, Lacoste featured different endangered species by swapping its trademark crocodile logo for its limited-edition polo shirts, last year, which turned heads on social media until consumers found out that it sells gloves from deer leather online. So, it’s important to understand that a hypocritical and half-hearted involvement in activating a voice addressing the environmental emergency would only backfire. Therefore, we, as creative thinkers and marketers need to be sensible as well as mindful of our communication with the customers. And we cannot afford to be apathetic anymore! It’s time.