Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The hypocrisy of advertising

On the escalators going down into the London Underground, there have always been, as long as I can remember, lots of adverts posted onto the walls. Recently however, these paper ads have been removed and replaced with LCD screens, which now flash logos and corporate images at you, as you descend into the belly of the capital.

The very first thing that stuck me when I saw these new illuminated screens was that it was a complete waste of energy. British Gas, who also supply customers with electricity, advertise through this means. Hypocritically, they inform you that if you switch to their service, you will be the beneficiary of a number of energy saving light bulbs. Every time I see the this advert, I scowl and think how much more power British Gas is using to propagate itself, than will actually be saved by customers switching their bulbs.

This got me thinking. All too often, companies are using the green agenda to promote themselves as clearly some genius guy in marketing as latched on to the fact that environmentalism is growing – that change is indeed coming. We should all be wary of this tactic. Don’t be fooled by it.

The truth of the matter is that environmentalism requires people to be sustainable in their way of life - or at least not to be wasteful. Holding back on buying that nice piece of lamb as its been shipped from New Zealand, or taking the train to Paris, as opposed to the plane, are just a couple of simple examples. Marketing on the other hand is designed for one thing, and one thing only – to make us buy tings we don’t really want. This gizmo will get you there that much quicker, make you that much more sexier…at the end of the day, they just want you to spend. The corporate world has no qualms about using environmentalism as a means to an end. Sustainability and consumerism, are quite honestly essentially mutually exclusive.

A way of keeping ahead of this game is to keep informed and to keep questioning everything. Don’t take corporate messages on face value. Always question a company’s motives for saying what they’re saying. Research them, if you have to. Just don’t be fooled.

In the interest of fairness, here is British Gas' energy efficiency website:

Saturday, 12 July 2008


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